Bizarre SF Juvenile Hall dog and pony show

by Allen Jones

The “Merit Center” at the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Center is a new room at the detention facility designed to reward kids for good behavior.

According to staff, it was “100 percent complete” eight months ago. According to Juvenile Justice Center Chief of Probation Allen Nance, it is “95 percent complete” as of Oct. 6, 2016, and will be ready in “a few weeks.” This is the Merit Center:

No kid will be able to enjoy or play one game in this new room, until Allen Nance is finished playing the bizarre game I will call “Dog and Pony.”

In response to my nosy questions to Nance, he responded, “Flooring is uneven,” it needs some “painting” in some spots and the program to run it has been sent back to his underlings “for revisions.”

Please! Liar is a strong word but I cannot find a softer word to describe how this politician is playing a longtime advocate for a fool.

Viewing the video, it’s a concrete floor with no construction defects. And according to staff, no painter has been needed in the area “for months.” And though I could be wrong, I don’t think it takes two probation chiefs, a director of the detention facility and all the supervisory staff eight months to revise a program designed to reward some of the on average 40 kids a day for good behavior.

The two probation chiefs:

Allen Nance hired a consultant some time ago to help him. His name is William Siffermann. Yes, he’s the last chief probation officer for the SF Juvenile Justice Center, who retired after bringing Allen Nance in from where they both worked in Chicago. This gives a new meaning to the term milk money.

Juvenile-Justice-Center-Director-Luis-Recinos-enters-Juvenile-Hall-Merit-Center-072016-by-Lea-Suzuki-300x200, Bizarre SF Juvenile Hall dog and pony show, Local News & Views
Juvenile Justice Center Director Luis Recinos walks into the Merit Center – ready but as yet unopened – at the Juvenile Justice Center’s Woodside Learning Center on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Recinos is reportedly eager to open the center. – Photo: Lea Suzuki, SF Chronicle

For months staff have been told, when they asked during monthly meetings with Luis Racinos, the director of Juvenile Hall, that the Merit Center was “waiting for the mayor” to cut the ribbon in a ceremony. Assistant Chief of Probation Paula Hernandez was present in several of those supervisory staff meetings, according to others in attendance.

Director Racinos and Chief Nance both told me they never said they were waiting on the mayor to cut a ribbon. So why the delay?

Again, I could be wrong, but political games played at the expense of troubled youth is why we have too many troubled youth. In other words, based on the fact that Allen Nance has conducted many look-at-what-I-did tours of the Merit Center since it was completed eight months ago, his dog and pony shows must be completed before he allows any of the kids to pet the dog or ride the pony.

But since I got nosy, he will be hurrying up a call to Mayor Ed Lee to cut the bull … I mean ribbon.

Allen Jones was a Bible study teacher at San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall from 1983 to 1993 in their “maximum security unit.” You can now hear what he has to say on public access TV. The Angelic Troublemakers airs in San Francisco only, from 4:30 to 5 p.m. every Saturday on cable Channel 29. He can be reached at