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Board takes further steps to overhaul the Probation Dept.


Including relocation of some detainees

In further overhauling its troubled juvenile detention facilities, the Board of Supervisors this week approved a series of moves, including the relocation of most juvenile detainees, upgrades to most facilities and asking the sheriff’s department to deploy volunteer reserve deputies to help fill holes in staffing.

“Since the reserves undergo the same hiring standards as a full-time deputy, (the Probation Department) is seeking to deploy them to supplement the sworn staff assigned to the juvenile halls contingent upon training to adapt reserves’ existing practices and skills to comply with Probation and state policies regulations, contingent upon County Counsel’s assessment of legally permissive,” county CEO Fesia Davenport wrote in a letter to the board outlining the proposed moves.

The deputy deployment idea found little public favor.

“Why should the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department watch over our children? Will we have deputy gangs in charge of them?” Ambrose Brooks of the group Dignity and Power Now told the board Tuesday.

The ACLU of Southern California also decried the move, noting on its Twitter page that it is suing the sheriff’s department “because of its failure to provide adequate care or safety to people in L.A. jails.”

“It is a shameful and dangerous idea to think sheriff’s deputies can take care of youth in L.A. juvenile halls,” according to the ACLU.

The moves approved by the board Tuesday without discussion are the latest steps by the county to address its troubled juvenile justice system, which has been under fire from state leaders and regulators. State Attorney General Rob Bonta recently slammed the condition of the juvenile halls as “appalling” and filed court papers seeking to force the county to remedy “illegal and unsafe” conditions.

A hearing on that matter is scheduled for May 9. That state Board of State and Community Corrections, meanwhile, has scheduled a hearing for May 23 to consider possibly ordering the shutdown of the county’s juvenile halls altogether due to lack of compliance with state regulations.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a series of steps Davenport recommended in her letter. Davenport wrote in her letter that the Probation Department “has determined it is necessary to move all predisposition youth to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, operate Central Juvenile Hall as a law enforcement intake unit and medical and diagnostic/assessment hub, and house only Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF) youth at the  Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar to ensure optimal and constitutional levels of care for Probation youth…Probation’s plan will better leverage existing facilities and available staff and resources to improve conditions and care for Probation youth, while flexing up temporary staff and other resources.”

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, located in Downey, was closed in July 2019.

The plan outlined by Davenport also included the readjustment of millions of dollars for capital improvements at the juvenile halls, with overall costs anticipated to reach nearly $50 million.