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HomeOpinionEditorial: More money for buildings won't solve L.A.'s juvenile probation woes

Editorial: More money for buildings won’t solve L.A.’s juvenile probation woes

A invoice that has sailed via the legislative course of and is headed to the state Senate ground is a intelligent try and invent another narrative for the perpetually floundering Los Angeles County Probation Division. Meeting Invoice 695 would create a grant program that when funded would supply state cash to L.A. County — and solely L.A. County — for juvenile justice infrastructure.

The inventive story line getting used is that crumbling juvenile halls created harmful circumstances for teenagers and employees. Services had been supposedly so outdated that state regulators needed to step in and declare them unsuitable to deal with youths. The county Board of Supervisors wouldn’t act, so two county labor unions — the probation officers and the probation managers — took the initiative and drafted a invoice to make state cash accessible for alternative amenities and desperately wanted refurbishment. Ought to the invoice go, grants will probably be made, new amenities will probably be constructed, and the Probation Division’s troubles will probably be over.

This model of occasions is the unions’ self-serving fantasy, however it was sufficiently compelling that freshman Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco (D-Downey) sponsored the invoice and three of the 5 L.A. County supervisors — Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger — help it.

The precise story is much more troubling. It’s too lengthy and aggravating to recount in full, however it’s essential to know the latest highlights, starting when probation officers refused to report back to work, making a staffing disaster on the juvenile halls.

Dishonesty was endemic. Probation employees who did come to work faked written certification that that they had checked on juveniles of their rooms each quarter-hour as required by legislation. Their supervisors faked certification that they reviewed movies that had been alleged to show the checks happened. Insufficient staffing meant no daytime actions for juveniles besides TV and video video games, and nighttime lockdowns that compelled juveniles to alleviate themselves of their rooms as a result of they might not be set free to make use of bathrooms.

There have been a number of fentanyl overdoses, and one teenager died. There have been fights and beatings. The 2 juvenile halls had been lastly stripped of their certification to function, and the county reopened a shuttered third juvenile corridor and transferred many of the younger wards there. Then a gun was discovered inside, and there have been a riot and an escape, and persevering with failure of officers to report back to work.

More cash for higher buildings gained’t clear up these issues. It’s true that Central Juvenile Corridor, now lastly closed for good, is greater than a century previous, however the issue was by no means the {hardware} — the buildings, the tools, the autos. The issue is the software program — the folks and their willingness to do the roles for which they’re paid. And a Probation Division tradition that makes disaster a every day routine.

A decade in the past, L.A. County used a state grant to remake Camp Vernon Kilpatrick, previously a grim barracks within the Malibu hills that was well-known for its sports activities packages. With greater than $50 million in state cash, L.A. County turned the grounds into Campus Kilpatrick, a powerful trendy facility with a “homelike setting” and a design meant to foster intensive remedy and mentoring.

The brand new method was dubbed the “L.A. Mannequin” of juvenile rehabilitation. But it surely by no means materialized as a result of the division employees didn’t totally signal on to this system. The grant purchased nice buildings that had been basically failures.

AB 695 would do the identical, offering grants for extra revamped probation {hardware} with out bettering the software program. It’s as if the Probation Division had been an airline whose flight crews don’t present up for work, and their union proposes to resolve the issue of canceled flights by getting the taxpayers to purchase the airline extra jets.

Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Holly Mitchell, to their credit score, oppose the invoice. In a letter to the Senate Public Security Committee, they accurately word that the Probation Division caseload has dropped so precipitously that solely six of 19 juvenile halls and camps stay open. The county hasn’t sufficiently downsized the payroll to account for the diminished activity, but the division nonetheless can’t get sufficient folks to come back to work.

L.A. County does want a juvenile justice invoice, however one that might authorize rehabilitation providers inside its new Division of Youth Improvement, in order that it may possibly lawfully tackle work that the Probation Division has proven itself to be inept at dealing with. The truth that the supervisors haven’t but discovered an creator to hold such a invoice raises a query as as to if they’re critical about their “care first” imaginative and prescient of juvenile justice. If that’s the case, they need to get themselves an actual invoice that might do the job and urge the Senate to reject AB 695.

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