May 31, 2013

Stanislaus County to show off juvenile center to public

The gymnasium and visitor center at Stanislaus County's Juvenile Commitment Center will be named in honor of Dr. Everett Johnson and Lillian Johnson, who devoted much time and energy to local young people.

Together, they gave more than 40 years of service to the juvenile justice system.

Starting in 1963, Lillian was a mainstay on the county's Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission, building a reputation of support for prevention programs and the need for family counseling. She died in 1991.

Everett Johnson continued the work in 1992 when he joined the Juvenile Hall Service League Board of Directors and was appointed to the prevention commission the following year. He worked to make the community more aware of minors who break the law, helped recruit volunteers and supported efforts to raise revenue for youth offender programs at Juvenile Hall.

The Johnsons raised five sons of their own, but found time to help young people who grew up in less privileged homes. As a leader in the local medical community, Dr. Johnson had an internal medicine practice in Turlock from 1954 until his retirement in 2006, with a couple of breaks during that period to pursue other interests.

He was an associate professor of community medicine at Stanford University for three years. Stanford set up a community clinic in Livingston, where Johnson trained medical students and residents.

He also served as a hospital examiner for the California Medical Association and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The public can attend a dedication for the Juvenile Commitment Center on Blue Gum Avenue next week. The county will give tours of the 60-bed facility, which is intended to rehabilitate youth offenders instead of locking them up.

The locked facility, costing $22.7 million, has a culinary training kitchen, classrooms for teaching skills to young inmates, day rooms, and the gymnasium and visitation center. The county will move court-sentenced juveniles into the 45,000-square-foot center this month.

Young people who have been taken into custody or are going through the court process will continue to be held at Juvenile Hall.

The dedication for the Juvenile Commitment Center starts Friday at 1 p.m. at 2215 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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