Outside Man

By Jesse Katz

Every Saturday morning Scott Budnick leaves his 1920s Mediterranean villa on a Hollywood Hills cul-de-sac, with its pool and waterfall and wooded trails, and drives his Tesla north, across the San Fernando Valley, to where the 5 and 210 freeways converge in Sylmar. The first time he made this trek, to a corner of Los Angeles synonymous with the fortress of a juvenile hall it encompasses, he was all jitters, wondering what he was getting himself into as he neared the brick walls and coiled razor wire.

Twelve years later, after some 300 to 400 Saturdays, Budnick pulls into the Compound like he owns the place, which is not far off; at least four superintendents in that time have come and gone. Strolling through the smoked-glass doors, he sips coffee, chews gum, and thumbs at his phone, pausing just long enough to navigate the metal detector and slip his driver’s license through a slot in the window...

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