“The only thing he learned was the world of fear and violence,” she said.
His mother and his attorneys want him sent to a private residential treatment center, where security would be lighter and therapy more intense.
Soccio didn’t directly address the boy’s emotional troubles during the hearing. He did call witnesses who testified about the safety and educational value at California’s juvenile lockups.
At one in Stockton, where the boy would likely be sent if prosecutors prevail, authorities go to great lengths to protect inmates, veteran parole agent George A. Valencia said.
The boy spent a few months there while he was being evaluated and seemed to do quite well, Valencia said, although he noted that at one point the youth threw urine on another juvenile’s bed and lied about it to authorities.
Valencia acknowledged on cross-examination that at 13 the boy could be the youngest person in the Stockton lockup and would be housed with the most violent juvenile criminals, including gang members and people convicted of rape, murder and assault.
Attorneys for the boy have said his father’s racist beliefs will make him a target behind bars, but Valencia dismissed that possibility, saying people who try to stay out of trouble in juvenile facilities generally can.
Defense attorney Matt Hardy asked, “Isn’t it a fact that there’s a gang fight going there nearly every day?”
“Not to my knowledge,” replied Valencia.
During the hearing, the boy’s interest seemed to wander from time to time as he went from paying attention to stretching or drumming his fingers.
At one point, just before a break, he leaned over and told his parole agent he was hungry.