Camp Wilmont Sweeney, the juvenile-detention facility in San Leandro long criticized for its deteriorating physical condition, may soon be shut down, county officials said this week.
The 60-year-old facility, operated by the Alameda County Probation Department, is riddled with cracks in its infrastructure and may be red-tagged, said Willie Hopkins, the director of the Alameda County General Services Agency.
Once an assessment is made on Camp Sweeney, county officials will decide whether to repair or replace it based on the cost-effectiveness, Hopkins said.
Its dilapidated condition has been the subject of several Alameda County civil grand jury reports for over a decade. Last year, the civil grand jury returned to Camp Sweeney, and while it found its programs well-run, they continued to describe the facility as “outdated.”
As far back as 2007, there were calls to renovate Camp Sweeney, but little progress has been made.
In 2011, the civil grand jury described ceilings at the minimum-security facility that sagged possibly due to leaks in the structure. “The library appeared more like a ransacked storage room, smelling of mold and mildew; and outside one door was a dead mouse,” grand jurors added.
In 2018, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved $54 million in funding for the effort. But construction for a 100-bed replacement facility at Camp Sweeney was halted last summer due to rising construction costs.
Some youth activists last year protested the board’s decision for a larger facility. They argued the existing Camp Sweeney typically houses only 15 individuals during any one day. In addition, a vast majority of the 15- and 19-years are predominately Black teenagers.
The article fails to mention that Alameda County secured a $35 million construction grant in 2008 via SB-81 and never used it.