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Supervisor looks into juvenile abuse


A Los Angeles County supervisor concerned about allegations of abuse in juvenile halls and camps is set to ask next week for a detailed report on three years of incidents at the facilities.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas previewed his request on Tuesday, saying he was prepared to “tell the probation department to get its act together.”

He said the department, which is responsible for managing 13 probation camps and three juvenile halls, has long struggled to protect the youth in its care.

The Department of Justice monitored the county’s juvenile facilities for six years, with a final report issued this past February.

The Board of Supervisors has since considered broader reforms, including restructuring the Probation Department, potentially splitting units responsible for adults and minors and closing some facilities.

The board has already committed to rebuild Camp Kilpatrick—a penitentiary-style boys camp with large dorms — as a smaller-scale, therapeutic model with boys housed in cottages of 12.

Today, the supervisors directed staffers to look at whether Camp Scott could be converted into a similar small-group model for girls.

However, outdated models of housing are not the only issue to be addressed. Allegations of staff abuse—including a report that four probation officers were caught beating a 17-year-old at a Sylmar juvenile hall on April 24—pushed Ridley-Thomas to call for the auditor-controller to detail three years of critical incidents.

The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the Sylmar encounter—said to have been captured on video and subsequently reported by the blog WitnessLA—but has not yet made a decision on whether to file charges, according to spokeswoman Jane Robison.

Ridley-Thomas’s motion—expected to be formally submitted next week—also calls for a review of protocols covering reporting of incidents and a discussion of how staff are held accountable.

“Trauma-informed, timely responses that emphasize healing, coordination and accountability should be the norm and the protocol, not the exception,” Ridley-Thomas said.