Basketball court in juvenile hall gets new Kings mural

By Walter Ko 

UPDATED APRIL 10, 2017 12:43 PM Play 

The Sacramento Bee

​​A new Sacramento Kings mural stretches the length of a basketball court where teens play every day – but it’s not visible to the public. The artwork featuring the Sacramento skyline, Kings logo and a soaring basketball player is on the inside of a high-security wall at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility. 

From early morning to late afternoon Friday, armed probation officers and volunteers painted the mural together as part of a ​public service effort honoring Cesar Chavez Day. Sacramento Kings Foundation volunteers also conducted personal basketball lessons for residents. Later that day, kids put aside gang rivalries and animosity to get together as a team and scrimmage under loud applause and cheers from the volunteers. 

​​Volunteers with the Northern California Construction Training built a garden for the detention facility in which teens can learn skills to help them transition to society upon release. “We are changing our culture,” said Carol Paris, assistant chief deputy at the Sacramento County Probation Department. “We are trying to bring the community into the facility. We give our kids mentorships and work on changing their behaviors and making the community better.” 

The center, moving away from its restrictive correctional nature, has improved its amenities over the years, creating game areas, a swimming pool and two multi-sensory deescalation rooms that help residents control their emotional state. The Friday volunteer program was one of many community involvement projects that have proven the public’s interest in helping juvenile offenders, Paris said. She believes that such projects will have a positive influence on the juvenile detainees.The “mural is a symbol of what we are trying to accomplish,” said Brian Lee, chief deputy at the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility. “The kids were kids for a day in a place that naturally isn’t family-oriented.”

Last summer the facility partnered with the YMCA to give swimming lessons to inmates, and NCCT has provided its full-time employees to open occupational classes to residents for years. According to Lee, the facility plans to add track and field area for its residents in the future. 

Walter Ko: 916-321-1436, @juntaeko 

This story was originally published April 5, 2017 3:54 PM.