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HomeOpinionEditorial: Juvenile hall closure order may do little to make youth safer

Editorial: Juvenile hall closure order may do little to make youth safer

Tuesday’s motion by the Board of State and Neighborhood Corrections discovering Los Angeles County’s two juvenile halls “unsuitable” to restrict youths is welcome, regardless of an unlucky six-week delay. It means the substandard Central Juvenile Corridor close to downtown and Barry J. Nidorf facility in Sylmar will shut inside 60 days for typical housing of younger individuals awaiting courtroom hearings or serving sentences for offenses beneath juvenile legal guidelines.

In implementation, although, the motion might quantity to little. The county will doubtless proceed to function two juvenile halls — together with Nidorf, which regardless of the “unsuitable” discovering can stay open as a Safe Youth Therapy Facility, a detention middle reserved for essentially the most critical circumstances. SYTFs, as they’re recognized, are past the attain of BSCC closure orders.

A portion of Nidorf is already designated an SYTF unit. That’s the place 18-year-old Bryan Diaz died earlier this month after ingesting fentanyl that one way or the other discovered its approach inside regardless of safety measures. Most youths transferred to the county when the state Division of Juvenile Justice closes on the finish of June are anticipated to be assigned to Nidorf.

The county additionally plans to reopen Los Padrinos in Downey, a juvenile corridor that closed in 2019 as a consequence of a sharply diminished caseload. It would maintain juveniles who’ve been arrested however are awaiting courtroom motion.

So it’s lower than clear whether or not the BSCC’s motion will mark a turning level within the historical past of the Probation Division’s juvenile division, which has struggled to correctly function its applications and amenities for greater than twenty years. Troubled younger individuals shall be shuffled amongst buildings, however whether or not they turn out to be any safer or have higher entry to lessons and different rehabilitative providers depends upon whether or not the Probation Division can overcome its dysfunctional tradition.

The division has been beneath fireplace over time for worker misconduct and harmful situations within the juvenile halls and camps. The BSCC beforehand discovered Central and Nidorf unsuitable in 2021 and has since given the county quite a few alternatives to repair the issues.

But each amenities spiraled uncontrolled as workers who complained of harmful situations declined to come back to work. The diminished staffing exacerbated the issues, leaving youths with few actions and additional ramping up tensions — resulting in much more workers no-shows.

The Board of Supervisors has endorsed a therapeutic strategy to juvenile rehabilitation and final yr launched a Division of Youth Growth as an alternative choice to conventional probation. However with out adjustments in state regulation that presently allow solely probation departments to deal with court-ordered juvenile rehabilitation, the brand new division can not take over most probation capabilities. That leaves the way forward for juvenile justice in Los Angeles County as unsure because it was earlier than the BSCC motion.

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