Breaking Cycles is a family-centered delinquency prevention and intervention program. A Breaking Cycles commitment is a typical disposition for many juvenile offenders. Generally, minors spend the initial part of the program in an institutional facility such as the Juvenile Ranch Facility for boys and the Girls Rehabilitation Facility for girls. Afterwards, they will transition to the community where they will receive a variety of after-care services.

Breaking Cycles Program Overview [top]

Breaking Cycles is a family-centered delinquency prevention and intervention program that began in 1997. The program was initially funded by the California Board of Corrections (BOC) and organized by the San Diego County Probation Department.

The program involves two major components - prevention and graduated sanctions. The prevention component of Breaking Cycles is comprised of five Community Assessment Teams (CATs) which target youth exhibiting high risk behaviors before they become involved in the juvenile justice system. The District Attorney's office primarily deals with the second component of Breaking Cycles, the graduated sanctions component. The programs that comprise this component are only accessed through a valid Juvenile Court order.

The length of a Breaking Cycles commitment is based on four primary tracks of 90, 150, 240, or 365 days. The availability of certain programs and services depends on the length of the track ordered by the court. Thus, at dispositional hearings it is important for each deputy to have an understanding of the Breaking Cycles system of graduated sanctions as well as the available programs in order to address the minor's needs.

Breaking Cycles 90 and STOP Program [top]

All minors with 90 day Breaking Cycles commitments (BC 90) automatically enter the Short Term Offender Program (STOP). The physical location of STOP is in Juvenile Hall for girls and at the Juvenile Ranch Facility (JRF) for boys. STOP is a short, institutional commitment for boys and girls ages 13 to 17.9 years old.

The goal of STOP is to focus on individuals in the beginning stages of delinquent behavior. The program provides physical training, school attendance, drug/alcohol education and work programs. This "custodial" component of BC 90 can be as little as 20 days depending on the minor's behavior, the attainment of program goals, and parental participation. After the STOP Program, the minor will generally transition to an "own home" setting.

Perhaps the most important distinction between BC 90 and the other three tracks is that probation does not provide wrap-around services for the BC 90 commit. In some cases, the court will order that the Minor attend the Reflections program after the STOP Program. However, a BC 90 commitment greatly limits probation's discretion regarding aftercare services. Thus, if the minor requires additional services or supervision after the "custodial" time, the 150, 240 or 365 day commitments are more appropriate (assuming available custody time permits).

Breaking Cycles 150, 240, or 365 [top]

Minors who are committed to a track greater than Breaking Cycles 90 (BC90) will be initially placed in an institutional assessment center located in Juvenile Hall. The assessment process lasts about 21 days and covers such areas as the minor's education, mental health, drug/alcohol use, prior delinquent record, family situation, and prior institutional behavior.

The goal of this process is to identify the minor's service needs and determine an initial program placement (usually JRF for boys and GRF for girls) as well as future transition programs. The custodial component of a BC 150, 240, or 365 commitment usually lasts 10-12 weeks, regardless of the actual length of the entire commitment. This time may be increased for poor behavior.

After the custodial period, the minor will generally transition to either a community based program or an "own home" setting where the minor will receive aftercare. Generally, a longer Breaking Cycles track allows for more aftercare services.