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State board declares local juvenile halls as ‘unsuitable’


Detainees must be relocated within 60 days

A state regulatory board this week declared Los Angeles County’s Barry J. Nidorf and Central juvenile halls unsuitable to house pre-disposition youth and ordered the county to relocate such detainees out of the facilities within 60 days.

Members of the Board of State and Community Corrections said they felt they had no alternative other than to make the declaration, citing a protracted history of short-comings at the facilities, which were found in recent inspections to still be out of compliance with numerous state standards. Board members called the county’s recently approved “aggressive’’ plans for an overhaul of its juvenile detention system too little, too late.

Representatives for the county unsuccessfully asked the board for a 150-day delay in the board’s action, saying plans are already under way to relocate pre-disposition youth detainees to the previously closed Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, but doing so in 60 days could create “chaos’’ and safety concerns.

It was unclear if the county might consider a temporary alternative housing option for some youth.

Roughly 275 pre-disposition youth–those who have not yet had their criminal cases resolved in court–are currently housed in the Nidorf and Central halls, a county representative told the board Tuesday.

The order will not impact post-disposition youth housed in a Secure Youth Treatment Facility within Nidorf hall in Sylmar. Central Juvenile Hall is in Lincoln Heights.

The BSCC also found the two juvenile halls unsuitable to house youths in 2021, but the facilities managed to remain open. But renewed inspection failures led the board to again initiate the process of declaring the halls unsuitable.

The county Board of Supervisors has been struggling to overhaul the troubled juvenile justice system even as it assumes responsibility for youth being transferred to counties from the state’s closing Juvenile Justice facilities.

The board recently voted to advance a “Global Plan’’ for the placement and care of juvenile detainees, with a goal of reducing the number of juveniles in custody and development of Secure Youth Treatment Facilities to provide a more supportive environment for detained youth.

In March of last year, about 140 juvenile detainees were hastily transferred from Central Juvenile Hall in Lincoln Heights to Barry J. Nidorf hall in Sylmar–a move that the county inspector general later concluded was orchestrated to avert a state inspection that appeared likely to fail.

Late last year, nearly 300 boys and girls filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually assaulted, harassed and abused by county probation and detention officers while being held at juvenile facilities dating back to the 1970s. Davenport noted while releasing her recent budget proposal for the coming year that the county could potentially face liabilities reaching $3 billion from such abuse claims.