Juvenile Court's Authority to Order Custody of a Ward
In re Kirk G. (1977) 67 Cal. App. 3d 538, 539-540 [136 Cal. Rptr. 706], relying on In re Maria A. (1975) 52 Cal. App. 3d 901, 903-904 [125 Cal. Rptr. 382], holds the juvenile court may not place a ward in an adult facility such as a county jail.
The only other possible source of authority for a juvenile court ward's county jail commitment is Welfare and Institutions Code section 727, which permits the court to "make any and all reasonable orders for the care, supervision, custody, conduct, maintenance, and support of the minor, including medical treatment, subject to further order of the court."
This provision allows the court to exercise discretion in making an alternative disposition for a ward, but that exercise of discretion is not unlimited.
As the Kirk G. court observed, "The Juvenile Court Law carefully sets forth this kind of dispositional order that a juvenile court can make." (67 Cal. App. 3d at p. 540.)
The choice of places to which the court can commit a ward is essentially a legislative rather than a judicial prerogative.
The court's authority to make "any and all reasonable orders for the . . . custody" of a ward is confined to the custodial dispositions provided for in other sections of the Welfare and Institutions Code, notably section 202.
Welfare and Institutions Code section 726 provides ". . . In any case in which the minor is removed from the physical custody of his or her parent or guardian" after an order of wardship under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, "the order shall specify that the minor may not be held in physical confinement for a period in excess of the maximum term of imprisonment which could be imposed upon an adult convicted of the offense or offenses which brought or continued the minor under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court."
Under section 726, "Physical confinement" is deemed as "placement in a juvenile hall, ranch, camp, forestry camp or secure juvenile home pursuant to [Welfare and Institutions Code] Section 730, or in any institution operated by the Youth Authority."
Again, there is no mention of county jail as an authorized placement for physical confinement.