SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Sacramento County's Youth Detention Facility is at one of its lowest capacities in years.
Many factors play into why the facility is now seeing fewer juvenile inmates escorted through their doors, but education seems to be the biggest factor, according to probation officials.
It helped one man free himself from the prison system.
Juvenile inmates occupy just over 140 beds at the YDF, a place Victor Malin knows too well.
"I first came here when I was about 12, I stole a car," recalled Malin.
The detention facility became a second home for him until he was 17, when he moved into a group home in Stockton.
"That's where I had the opportunity to be exposed to the idea of going to college."
Malin attended college for about a year before he found himself on the other side of the law again -- this time -- as an adult in prison.
"I was able to actually see that if you continue, this could be your life and I didn't want that to be my life."
Malin became a free man at the age of 23 and continued to pursue his education, which he says helped him break free from the system.
"One of the things we are doing more intentionally now is ensuring prior to release the school district the juvenile left is aware, and they are already enrolled prior to leaving here."
Michael Shores is the Chief Assistant Probation Officer at the Youth Detention Facility.
He says the YDF generally houses up to two-hundred juveniles at any given time, but with his department working more closely with incarcerated youth, Shores says fewer of them are getting locked up.
"At the peak, we had 360 kids in custody, and today we have 145 youth in custody," Shores added.
It's a surreal experience for Malin, who is now the executive director at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and a mentor for many of the youth at the YDF.
"When I hear the doors click I say I can't believe I'm here, but I'm here for a purpose," said Malin.
Now he uses his story to try and keep young boys out of the system.
"I tell them stay outta trouble, always wake up and go to school, go to work on time, don't lag, always work hard. The cream rises to the top."
Shores says he's working to get his staff to do more mentoring at the facility, to continue to keep the number of youth in custody down.
In November, the number of youth inmates dropped down to 117.
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