Escape reported from La Honda detention facility

Breaking news

Posted by on Wed, April 8, 2009

UPDATE: He’s been located.

The Sheriff’s office has reported

a "walkaway"

an escape from Camp Glenwood boys’ detention facility in La Honda at about noon today.  

The subject is a 16 year old white male, 5’3" tall, 132 pounds, with short blonde hair and blue eyes. He’s wearing a dark blue jeans, dark blue jacket, and a light blue T-shirt.

If you seen him, please notify local law enforcement or dial 9-1-1.  Do not attempt to contact him.

UPDATE: The Sheriff sent out a correction calling this an "escape", rather than a "walkaway".

Once again, another escape from Camp Glenwood.

The Sheriff’s office has reported an escape from Camp Glenwood boys’ detention facility in La Honda at about noon today.” First report was that it was a “walkaway,” but we should know better by now. Any inmate out of supervision and off grounds should be treated as an escape and a petition should be filed and later sustain with a comcommtant punishment for the escape. At minimum, that should be in a locked down facility to complete programming unless mitigating factors preceeded the escape and no administrator of counselor was available to intervene.

I again urge that Camp Glenwood be closed down until properly secured with double fencing and increase line-of-sight supervision and increase surveillance! It is now time to return all inmates place there to the Youth Service Center and open a secure unit at the old Hillcrest facility. Catch-if-Catch-Can is a motto for inmates in any facility and that is true of juvenile inmates at Camp Glenwood though they may parse the phase differently.

“One of last years inmate was charged with murder of a Redwood City teenager after escaping Camp Glenwood, a medium-security facility run by the San Mateo County Probation Department” so goes the story! Loren Buddress, former Chief Probation Officer, claims that there are few walk-away’s from Camp Glenwood. I bet that data is skewed - there are a number of walk-aways that return either quickly or return within hours. Who knows how the inmates were debriefed or even if they left if staff have poor random and scheduled case count procedures.

Don’t believe that Camp Glenwood is a medium security facility by any reach of the imigination, though it was reported it as such.

I also bet there are a number of out-of-bound inmates where supervision was lost by staff possiby caused by inmate designed distractions as was done in the YSC escape of a inmate juvenile being tried as an adult for murder.

It may be difficult to track people out there to see if the integrity of the facility was breached, but 50 foot of continuous dense, low height vegetation could be maintained to see if anyone breached the facility’s boundaries. This vegetation, if disturbed, would be a first clue that the area is being tested or used for untoward behavior.

It is true, that local wildlife may breach the area, but broken or mashed vegetation probably would reveal direction of the breach and even the type of animal that breached it thus ruling out human activity. Plowing and furling the out of bounds area might not be as effective because disturbed areas are easily covered over while some vegetation recovers fairly quickly.

Boundary control requires random and planned searches and disturbance just outside the boundary. That should be reviewed and photographed for second opinions. Disturbed areas should be noted in the daily log and walked by staff and logged during morning and evening and randomly during the day. It is also important to note that people may walk into the area to provided secreted contraband just outside the boundary for inmates or throw contraband just inside or close to the boundary.

San Francisco’s Log Cabin… and probably the old Hidden Valley facility which is mothballed or being used by another agency are subject to the same breach and walk-away problems. There have been several multiple escapes from the SF facility this year!

The escape from the Youth Service Center (previously noted) probably had assistance as the boundary fence was cut—there was more sophistication in this breach; Camp Glenwood is just isolated and not secure at all.

Again, it nearly all comes down to conduct comprehensive compliance reviews and audit. The Youth Service Center need $300,000 to add security fences, cameras, retrain staff and improve polices and procedures…!

Don’t be fooled by the argument that unfenced facilities increase rehabilitation and there are no longitudinal studies to support the recedivism rate of those that graduate from Camp Glenwood or Log Cabin. Nearly all of the old San Mateo County commitments to the state prison who had juvenile records were at Camp Glenwood. The camp is a good intermediate intervention, but it must be secured even if an inmate thinks of it as a prison. They are there as “one of many” last chances!

Was La Honda notified by phone or siren of the escape? I doubt it, but…. When was the last practice action alert test conducted at the YSC where there is high public density? What would the after action report reveal about the test?

Comment 2
Sun, April 12, 2009 12:43am
Tim Payne
All my comments

Wow you sure seem to have more information about our county juvenile facilities than a normal concerned citizen. I am more concerned about your motivations now than a 135 pound 16 year old whos mother most likely brought him back to the facility the next day.

What is your motivation? Have you ever been up to Glenwood? If so you must know that the whole point is that it is not a prison. You understand that anyone inmate could just walk away from that place but they don’t due to the threat of being placed in a prison if they do?
You mention a case of a kid charged with murder that took place after escaping Glenwood. Was he convicted? While it is a horrible thing that happened is it really the best reason for putting the whole place on lock down? Has our community been in danger from these kids walking away from Glenwood for the 30+ years it has been operating and we are just now finding out about it?
I have lots more to say but I’ll leave it at that for now. I look forward to your answers.

Gee Tom, you sound like you want my resume!  Since you challenged me you can honor or dishonor my views by reading of my profile on  I am a California high school graduate, you know!

Yes, I do know a lot about the juvenile justice and the criminal justice system; I have visited all 3 facilities juvenile camps in the county several times and a lot more camps, jails and prisons throughout the state….

What do you think was the weight of the alleged murderer of the camp escapee who made it to RWC who killed that young man or his co-conspirator that plead guilty to a lesser offense; does weight have anything to do with this or those at Columbine?

It was inferred that law enforcement picked up the recent escapee, but I do not have a definitive answer to that; do you?  Then there is the group - I think two groups - that escaped from Log Cabin this year.

Lets not be cryptic and call it the way it was, the way it is and my view!  Parse it the way you want, the stigma is with the inmates who are probably damaged goods long before incarceration:

Inmate/prisoner = ward = inmate
Prison = reform school/correctional institution/camp = prison

The arguments for these euphemisms are misplaced, but I thought it was a good idea at one time.  Since gangs in California and nationally and criminal conduct in our general population is much too high, I have come to believe otherwise.  In fact, negotiated pleas from a burglary to receiving stolen property have diminished the seriousness of the real crime and when counseling inmates, they refer to the lesser crime until confronted with the actual behavior. 

Reality and therapy is about, “what is the behavior, not how it is parsed.  A one punch fight is an assault, but if it ends in death, it may be a murder, abet manslaughter; a vehicular homicides while drunk or having a history of drunk driving to me is a murder because it could have been foreseen!  We have a couple of those cases in the county now…!  When you cut through the chase and call it what it is, I think you get a better result, but it usually doesn’t reduce out 80% recidivism rate.

Parenthetically, I would like to take the last 2000 inmates that completed or failed the Camp Glenwood program who are now over age 18 and do a longitudinal study to see what the recidivism rate is.  My argument remains that parents should be required to attend weekly group conjoint family counseling sessions with parents, inmate overseen by an experience psychologist and the inmates counselor.  Otherwise, these inmates are going right back to the family and community that drives recedivism.

Whenever there is an escape or an unaccounted for inmate missing, it is time to freeze the population and go into lock down mode.  A case count is conducted, a comprehensive search is made and reported and everyone is debriefed to see if there are indicators that would reveal clues even though there may be a no snitch policy.  The log book should be reviewed for behavior - good and bad- that may offer 1st clues or tells that something may be missed.  All staff should be accounted for - you just might have a dead staff member in the dumpster or injured or taken as a hostage.  All escapes should be viewed as incidents of desperation!

Yes, our communities have been in danger for years from non-secured correctional facilities.  You don’t have be a victim to know that as there are a number of incidents since the 1970s that have resulted in property loss to deaths.  A weekly incident is not required to to put the communities at risk.  Impulsive and lack of serious criminal experience by an individual who makes a desperate decision to remove themselves from a rehabilitation program that is offered by the county nullifies that rehabilitation effort.  Escapes as a group may even be more dangerous because individuals either get in a group think mode or go their separate ways.  The consequences can easily escalate and the victim may just not be able to flee, or negotiate, or fight successfully and has to submit as a hostage or he is wounded or dead in a fight or executed!

The alleged murder case I mention was a street group think situation and the one who pled guilty allegedly didn’t know the offender had a knife, but the victim is still dead!  He probably only weighed 135 lbs. too (tongue in cheek).

Camp Glenwood is understaffed, lack a comprehensive surveillance system and needs a double sensory fencing.  It may not be full proof, but I have no doubt that there are many more out-of-supervision and escape cases that are not reported, logged and secreted contraband controlled by the inmates and searches are minimal and not random.  These inmates are not place at Camp Glenwood because they are role models for our communities!  Don’t be fooled, inmates if they want rehabilitation, can accomplish much in secured, fenced facilities.  Professionals have cooked the books on this one by thinking we are back in the 1960’s when it was popular to find methods that don’t stigmatize inmates and recidivism was 30%; that is not a valid assumption today and the recidivism rate is higher than ever - 60 to 80%! 

If you have a lot more to say, say it.  Stop fencing with our public safety and get real. I do in the SMDJ Forum and RCDN where I have extensively talked about Camp Glenwood and the YSC.

Oh… Tim - I have that right now; sorry for the error.  The interim CPO wrote me as Mr. Kirkwood, before the most recent escape, but things like that happened and his latest letter got it right. 

My Letter to the Editor after the escape from the YSC some time ago noted some of the vulnerabilities of their new facility, (SMDJ - 3/19/2008) expresses more of my concerns:

Dear Editor,

There are those that have now said that we know how Josue Raul Orozco escaped from the Youth Service Center and it is no longer necessary to allocate $54,000 for an internal study, a Sheriff’s study or an outside study.  It would be a mistake and a public crime to curb the studies announced!

The escape studies hasn’t even come close to being completed.  We may know a great deal about the escape itself and the vulnerability to the exterior of the facility, but this incident is but one of the centers’ problems and probably the easiest to fix.  Thus far, about 6 to 8 exterior problems have been identified.  The problematic one, is denying vehicles and people operating outside of the last line of protection.  We have yet to interrogate and debrief the escapee!

Staff safety and inmate safety and security of the facilities interior compartments has to be incorporated into this study.  There are likely small blind spots inside the building, key and audio-visual control issues, and ensuring double staffing when inmates are outside of their cell.  Staff has to control their units and assignments: conduct suicide prevention, control potential hostage taking situation and extraction exercises.  Understanding the nuances for dangers to and from those inmates who are not in the line of sight is challenging.  Distractions by the behavior of an inmate, a staff member or visitors has to be monitored and reviewed.

There will be other escape attempts and maybe even a few successful ones over time even from the least dangerously acting out inmates.  Pretrial Inmates, those awaiting adjudication and those in rehabilitation programs, have nothing better to do all day and night than to talk up, develop alliances, create ideas, plan, compare notes, take trial risks, and accomplish the task that subverts the YSC operation and is a way to make a name for themselves. 

I am of the opinion, as a new facility, this will be money well spent by a bottom up review by inside, outside and independent inspections and reports.  This escapes was caused more from the bottom - a staffing post problem and not following policy.  Subsequent layers upward failed from that point.  A top down review will be warranted, but for now, the bottom starts with intake and what was known and passed up to living unit staff, to the recreational staff…. and upward and then information slides up and down the facility so we can access information.

Recent claims that the probation department staff has abused inmates and probationers, I am surprised that anyone would not want to provide the safest facility for everyone (including staff-on-staff safety and private trysts) and that can’t really be done with just these reviews.  A host of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly checks and overviews have to occur and some exercises must be random and irregular to keep inmates off centered.  When vulnerable situations are discovered, it must be reported, inspected and corrective action taken followed by passing on training to all staff!

By the way - as far as I am concerned, this is a prison facility, wards are inmates and group supervisors are prison guards that usually put in an extra effort counsel and to sell youthful offenders on changing their life for the better.  I salute their courage.  They operate in a very vulnerable and potentially dangerous job where seemingly minor problems can escalate to serious injury and death.  Staff have a very small support group even in an emergency!

When the Draft: Review of the San Mateo Youth Service Center - 6/9/08 report was completed, a number of my observations were confirmed in that report:

Regardless of the overlay - letter and subsequent draft, I don’t know if corrective action and $300,000 in retrofitting has occurred or random and appropriate compliance reviews have been conduct to see if there is any improvements in security and reporting.  I believe nothing unless comprehensive audits and compliance reviews are conducted yearly…!