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Transforming Camp Kilpatrick, DOJ’s New Interrogation-Recording Policy, Empowering an Inspector General…and More

May 23rd, 2014 by Taylor Walker

LA COUNTY’S CAMP KILPATRICK’S SHINY, NEW REHABILITATION-CENTERED FUTURE

LA County Probation’s Camp Kilpatrick, an outdated and rundown juvenile detention facility in Malibu, will be torn down this summer and replaced by what is hoped will be a new kind of camp that will help reverse decades of neglect and outdated practices in the nation’s largest juvenile justice system. This transformed Kilpatrick, which will reopen in either 2016 or 2017, is planned as a facility centered on rehabilitation, education, and healing that, ideally, will jump-start meaningful reform throughout LA County’s juvenile system, and beyond.

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange’s Gary Cohn has more on the future of Kilpatrick. Here are some clips:

Camp Kilpatrick is one of 14 probation camps in Los Angeles County, which has the largest juvenile justice system in the nation. Most of the camps were built during the 1950s and 1960s, and they are characterized by penitentiary-like facilities and strictly enforced routines. In a 2012 letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the county’s chief probation officer Jerry Powers has described the design of the probation camps as “creat(ing) an image of a jail-like environment.”

In the UCLA report on reforming Los Angeles County’s juvenile justice system, Newell and her co-author, Jorja Leap, describe numerous consequences of the outdated design. The barracks-like dormitories do not foster rehabilitation and only serve to foster competition, deepen factions and further gang problems. Youth interaction with staff is inconsistent and often adversarial. Safety problems persist. And educational opportunities are inconsistent.

“Even the newest Los Angeles County probation camp — Challenger Memorial Youth Center, which opened in 1990 in a geographically remote area with a command-and-control program — represents an outdated era of juvenile justice that does not meet the needs of today’s system-involved youth,” the report states.

The new model envisions small dorms of 10-12 youth, with a living room area and private bathrooms, in sharp contrast to the current facilities and their large open dorms with 50-120 beds in military barracks style, open bathrooms and no privacy. It envisions a better staff-to-youth ratio, one where staff have regular schedules that support working with youth, consistency and relationship building rather than 56-hour work schedules with 16-hour shifts, with staff then gone for several days. And it envisions an environment where safety is promoted through strong relationships, and where isolation rooms are eliminated.

“You need an environment that’s conducive to positive youth development, that feels normal, that feels safe, that feels comfortable, that feels homelike,” Newell told JJIE. The rebuilt Camp Kilpatrick facility, she adds, “will really be designed with rehabilitation in mind — what do youth need, and how can the facility design help support this.”

Similar approaches have worked in Missouri, Washington, D.C., and Santa Clara County.

The small group rehabilitation approach has been particularly successful in Missouri, reducing recidivism to one of the lowest rates in the country. The hallmark of Missouri’s system is small, cottage-like facilities at locations that keep juveniles close to their own homes and emphasize rehabilitation. As one indication, in 2011 only 6.9 percent of youth discharged from Missouri’s Division of Youth Services were recommitted for new juvenile offenses within one year. The approach has been so successful that juvenile justice advocates refer to it as the “Missouri Miracle.”

[SNIP]

The Camp Kilpatrick transformation will be based on the Missouri model, but it will be tailored to specific needs in Los Angeles County. For example, a project-based learning education model called Road to Success Academy (which has been piloted in other LA County probation camps) is expected to be the educational model, which is intended to complement the other components of the Missouri model.

The project is being funded primarily through a juvenile justice realignment bill passed by the California state Legislature in 2007, which created new funding for counties to improve their facilities. Los Angeles County got the go-ahead to rebuild one of its probation camps based on best practices, and it selected Camp Kilpatrick because it was physically in the worst shape. The county has been working with researchers and juvenile justice advocates on the new design model.

The county is expected to select a design and building firm in the coming months, and the rebuilt Camp Kilpatrick will likely open in 2016 or 2017.

Back in March, we had a series of stories about a push by advocates, parents, and coaches to save LA County Probation’s popular sports program at Camp Kilpatrick, which didn’t quite fit into the camp’s $48 million state-of-the-art rebuild. (The sports program has fortunately found a new home at Challenger Memorial Youth Center camp in the Antelope Valley for the fall 2014 sports season. You can read more about it here, here, here…and here.)


 

HUGE DOJ POLICY SHIFT CALLS FOR RECORDING OF (ALMOST) ALL SUSPECT INTERROGATIONS

After over 100 years of the FBI operating under a policy prohibiting the recording of nearly all interrogations, the Department of Justice has instated “sweeping” new policy requiring interrogations (with some exceptions) be recorded, preferably with both audio and video. As US Attorney General Eric Holder explains in the above video, the new rule will promote accountability and protect both agents and suspects by creating an “objective account of key investigations.”

The Arizona Republic has the story. Here are some clips:

Since the FBI began under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, agents have not only shunned the use of tape recorders, they’ve been prohibited by policy from making audio records of statements by criminal suspects without special approval.

Now, after more than a century, the U.S. Department of Justice quietly has reversed that directive by issuing orders May 12 that audio recording, preferably with video, is presumptively required for interrogations of suspects in custody, with some exceptions.

There was no news release or news conference to announce the radical shift. But a DOJ memorandum obtained by The Arizona Republic spells out the changes that will begin July 11.

“This policy establishes a presumption that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody,” says the memo from James M. Cole, deputy attorney general, to all federal prosecutors and criminal chiefs.

“This policy also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances where the presumption does not apply,” such as in the questioning of witnesses.

[SNIP]

Attorneys, researchers and critics of the old policy say reform brings federal agencies up to modern policing standards and removes a stigma that has damaged the credibility of America’s criminal-justice system. Put simply, in the absence of recorded interviews, defense lawyers have been able to undermine honest testimony by some FBI agents while, in other cases, agents misremembered, distorted or lied about suspect statements.

The failure to maintain electronic records of interrogations also created gaps in FBI intelligence gathering, especially involving terrorism cases. Instead of maintaining an accurate and largely indisputable record, agents on the witness stand for decades have relied on their memories, interpretations and handwritten notes transcribed into a form known as the 302.

(HuffPost published a copy of the DOJ memo. Read it here.)


THE TOOLS MAX HUNTSMAN NEEDS TO SUCCEED IN REFORMING THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

In January, Max Huntsman took on the role of Inspector General over the scandal-plagued LASD. But in the current capacity of inspector general over a department with an public-elected sheriff, Huntsman does not have the power to enforce reform, he can only focus a spotlight on the department’s problem areas.

In an op-ed for the LA Times, Katherine Mader, the first LAPD inspector general (1996-1998), calls for legislation that would beef up the authority of an inspector general overseeing a law enforcement agency.

Here are the powers Mader says an IG would need to initiate real change:

• The power to promise confidentiality to those he or she deals with during inquiries. Without such power, an inspector general’s private notes of interviews with complainants may be subpoenaed by the city or county to assist in civil lawsuits.

• A set, tenured term. In both the county and the city, inspectors general are “at will” employees and can be fired without cause. Tenure would enable them to issue critical reports — especially ones likely to generate controversy — without fear of reprisal. Such reports are often applauded in the beginning, when reform is wanted. But once a troubled agency is deemed “fixed” and politicians have taken credit for the reformation, they are likely to be far less receptive to critical reports.

• The power to initiate investigations. A true inspector general should be able to look at any facet of police operations and write a report on shortcomings he finds. The overseeing commission or board should not be able to shut down an inquiry.

• The power to release reports. A true inspector should be able to release the findings of any inquiries. No overseeing board should have the authority to keep a report secret.

• The power of access. There should be no nook or cranny within a police agency that cannot be probed by the inspector general. That means access to all generated internal reports, especially those produced by the internal affairs division, whether or not an investigation is complete. Inspectors general throughout the country, as well as in Los Angeles, have consistently complained that their access is often restricted, and there is no remedy.

IN OTHER LASD RELATED NEWS…

During Wednesday’s debate at the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, several rival sheriff candidates urged Paul Tanaka to drop out of the race after the former undersheriff acknowledged being a subject in an ongoing federal investigation.

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has the story. Here’s a clip:

“He needs to step aside,” former Sheriff’s Commander Bob Olmsted said. Olmsted also directly addressed his former colleague, who stood a few feet from Olmsted inside the crowded cafeteria at Notre Dame High School.

“You perpetuated the code of silence for years by hiding the malfeasance and the criminal wrongdoing,” Olmsted said to Tanaka. Olmsted is among a handful of department officials who complained about problems at the agency to the FBI…

Another candidate, Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers, said Tanaka is “the common denominator with all these scandals” at the department. A federal grand jury has indicted 20 deputies on corruption or civil rights charges. A separate federal probe found deputies engaged in racial profiling in the Antelope Valley. In addition, Sheriff’s Department officials have admitted to hiring dozens of unqualified deputies.

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell called the FBI investigation into Tanaka “a major distraction to being able to move forward…and begin the healing process” at the department. McDonnell reiterated he is best qualified to make changes at the agency because he has no affiliation with it. Opponents have said his lack of knowledge of the sprawling department is a liability.

During the debate, Tanaka, who has raised the most money among the seven candidates, sought to rise above the criticism.

“Certainly the usual attacks occurred,” Tanaka said. “We are fighting for the top cop job in the county, and this is politics.”

Posted in DEA, FBI, Inspector General, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Probation, Rehabilitation | 10 Comments »

Will LAUSD Regulate School Discipline & Ban “Willful Defiance?”….Far Right Lawmakers Say Let States Regulate Weed….LAPD’s Zero Tolerance,

April 17th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


MONICA GARCIA’S STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS

On Tuesday, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia introduced a motion that, if adopted by the board, would establish a Student Bill of Rights for school discipline.

It’s a carefully constructed motion that is supported by a range of organizations including Public Counsel, Liberty Hill, The California Endowment, Community Coalition, and a host of student groups, and it lays out a set of rules and guidelines for schools regarding the way they discipline students. Among other things, the motion mandates transparency and good record keeping in the discipline process, and a clear delineation of the role of school police on campus.

It also mandates that all students have access to what is known as School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions (SWPBIS), a strategy that has been shown to reduce suspensions, increases attendance, and even to improve academic performance.

But, if passed, the biggest change the motion would put into place is the removal from the school discipline tool kit the use of “willful defiance” as a reason for suspension or expulsion.

Here’s the wording:

Beginning Fall 2013, no student shall be suspended or expelled for a “willful defiance” (48900(k) offense

Willful defiance is a blunt instrument that youth advocates and education reformers have been working hard to get taken off the table at a state level, but the state legislature and the governor have, thus far, balked. Thus for LAUSD to lead the way would be a positive development indeed. (And perhaps it would lead the way for passage of AB 420.)

Oddly, Tuesday’s LA Times editorial that discussed Garcia’s resolution, praised most of it, but took is issue only with the removal of “willful defiance” as an option.

We believe the Times is wrong-headed in its objection.

Here’s the relevant clip (italics ours):

The resolution, which is scheduled to come before the board Tuesday, would require schools to use other measures to combat willful defiance, including setting clearer expectations and providing counseling to get at the root of bad behavior when possible, both of which have been found to be more effective than suspension. But it also would allow schools to devise additional programs that might prove even more useful, such as detention, or setting up a special classroom, with schoolwork to be done and tutors available, so that students who act up in class aren’t allowed to continue disrupting the education of other students but also don’t fall behind in their studies.

Where the resolution goes off course is with its zero tolerance for suspending defiant students under any circumstances. The district still has not figured out how to deal with the most persistently disruptive students, those who don’t respond to counseling, and it shouldn’t completely tie the schools’ hands....

We don’t agree.

As we briefly outlined here earlier this week, in 2009, Jose Huerta, the principal of Garfield High School in East LA, not only took willful defiance off the table at his school, he took the radical step of doing away suspensions and expulsions altogether (except in extreme instances where demanded by state law). The result was, after less than two years, Garfield had a much healthier, safer campus, and suspensions went from 683…down to one. A year after that, the school’s state achievement scores (API) had jumped 75 points.

There are other examples elsewhere in the country. But Garfield is the closest, and the best.

Garcia’s motion will be voted on next month. We hope those behind the Times editorial will have done some further research and thinking on the issue between then and now.

(You can read Garcia’s motion here, but scroll down to page 24, item 44.)


ARCH CONSERVATIVES URGE CONGRESS TO GET RIGHT WITH STATES’ GANJA LAWS

Tim Dickenson of Rolling Stone has the story. Here’s a clip:

There’s a new congressional push to end the federal War on Pot in the states – and it’s being spearheaded by some of the most conservative members of the Republican conference.

The “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” introduced in the House last week would immunize anyone acting legally under state marijuana laws from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act. Depending on the state, the legislation would cover both medical marijuana and recreational pot, and would protect not only the users of state-legal cannabis, but also the businesses that cultivate, process, distribute and sell marijuana in these states.

The legislation is in keeping with poll data released last week from Pew Research that found that 60 percent of Americans believe the feds should allow states to self-regulate when it comes to marijuana. The same poll finds that 57 percent of Republicans also favor this approach, which may explain why this bill is attracting arch-conservative backers in the House.

The three GOP co-sponsors are:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who is best known to liberals as a villainous climate denier for theorizing that global warming is the result of “dinosaur flatulence.”

Read the rest, to find out who else—from both the (R) and (D) sides— makes up this ganja gang.


LAPD SAYS ZERO TOLERANCE RE: PERJURY

The story by KPCC reporter Erika Aguilar is a sad one, really. Two LAPD motor cops may have made an innocent mistake in the way they wrote up a DUI stop, which led to the officers perjuring themselves—even though it seems there was no reason to do it. Nothing to gain. But Chief Charlie Beck said (in so many words) that the LAPD is firm about zero tolerance for lying on police reports and perjury.

That is, obviously, as it should be. Holding the line on a principal means holding it everywhere, no excuses. Let us hope the line is consistant throughout the department.

Here’s a clip from Aguilar’s story:

The criminal trial of two Los Angeles police motorcycle cops accused of lying under oath about conducting a DUI traffic stop began this week.

Craig Allen, who was fired, and Phillip Walters, who is on suspension from the force, were charged last year with perjury and falsifying a police report.

The incident occurred in Highland Park just after midnight three years ago. LAPD traffic cops were on watch for impaired driving. A DUI task force was in full force that night.

Officer Cecilio Flores watched a driver roll through one stop sign and then another before pulling her over. He said she had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. Flores radioed over officers Walter and Allen to assist him with the stop and then take over, a “hand-off” as described in court or a “gimme.”

The DUI stop continued its fairly routine course. The driver was given a field sobriety test, arrested and transported to jail, and Allen began the paperwork.

That last step, the written police report, is the meat of this case.

“He wrote that he was in the area when they observed and pulled over the vehicle,” said prosecutor Rosa Alarcon in her opening statement. “He didn’t mention Flores.”

Alarcon said Walters later testified during a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing regarding the woman’s driver’s license that he saw her driving that night. She added that officer Allen testified at another hearing giving specific details about how they pulled over the driver — but admitted that he hadn’t personally observed the offense after audio of the dispatch recording was played.

“The defendants made a conscious decision to lie,” Alarcon said.

Posted in DEA, Education, LAPD, LAUSD, Restorative Justice, School to Prison Pipeline, War on Drugs, Youth at Risk, Zero Tolerance and School Discipline | 7 Comments »

The 5-Day, No Water DEA Detention, GA Gets Sensible, and Foster Kids Get New Apartment Keys

May 3rd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

By Taylor Walker



THE 5-DAY NON-ARREST, NO WATER LOCK-UP

Some of you may already have seen short versions of this flabbergasting story of Daniel Chong, the 24-year-old engineering student and UC San Diego senior who said he was swept up in a Drug Enforcement Administration raid near campus and was taken to a DEA facility where, after questioning, he was told he would be released shortly. But instead Chong put in a tiny holding cell—and forgotten about for the next five days.

Jeff McDonald of UT San Diego has been doing the best job with this story. You can read McDonald’s update about the DEA’s “apology” here, and the main story here. But here are the basics of Chong’s ordeal.

At the DEA field office in Kearny Mesa, Chong said, he was handcuffed and left in a holding cell for about four hours. He was then moved to an interview room, where he was told he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and would be released shortly. One agent even promised to drive him home.

He was then returned to a holding cell to await his release. The door swung closed sometime Saturday and didn’t open again until Wednesday. Chong said he was in one of the middle cells, with no toilet, no water.

“I had to recycle my own urine,” he said. “I had to do what I had to do to survive.”

Soon, Chong said, nothing made sense. He could hear agents chatting among themselves on the other side of the heavy door, and other detainees coming and going from holding tanks nearby.

Days crawled by. No food. No water. No bathroom. He remembers biting his eyeglasses and using the broken shards to scrawl a note onto his left arm.

“Sorry Mom,” he tried to write.

The DEA acknowledged, in a statement to U-T San Diego’s The Watchdog on Monday, that agents left someone in a cell
after a raid on April 21 — until they found him and had to call paramedics. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that medical call came on April 25.


GROWN UP FOSTER KIDS FIND KEY (LITERALLY) TO BRIGHTER FUTURE

Today, Thursday, Ashley Marquez, an 18-year-old who has recently “aged out” of foster care, will receive the keys to her first apartment, complete with rent-sharing roommate, with the help of First Place for Youth, a nonprofit that aids 16 to 24-year-old foster care kids in things like job training and placement, housing, education completion, and healthcare.

In the past, the stats on kids who age out of foster care have been heartbreakingly bad. But organizations like First Place for Youth are helping young men and women like Ashley break out of the trajectory that foster care has too often predicted.

As First Place for Youth explains the issue:

Each year in California, more than 5,000 youth age out of foster care when they turn 18 and lose access to all state-funded foster care services. Without housing, education or emotional support, 65 percent of foster youth will face imminent homelessness, 20 percent will be arrested or incarcerated, 46 percent will complete high school and only 1 percent will graduate from college.

Research has shown that providing intensive services—such as housing, education and employment support—at the critical juncture when youth are aging out, helps them avoid negative social outcomes and achieve real long-term self-sufficiency.

The kids that come through First Place For Youth seem to prove that a little help goes a long way. According to FPFY’s stats, the youth they work with are five times less likely to experience homelessness, three times less likely to give birth before the age of 21, three times less likely to be arrested, six times more likely to be enrolled in college, twice as likely to graduate from high school, twice as likely to be employed.

Congratulations to Ashley on her first place!


GEORGIA DECIDES TO USE PRISON CELLS MOSTLY FOR DANGEROUS CRIMINALS. (A NOVEL CONCEPT.)

Georgia’s governor signed a criminal justice reform bill Wednesday that will save taxpayers about $264M over the next five years. The sentencing reform will make room for an expanded rehabilitation budget and hopefully curb Georgia’s high recidivism rate (1 in 3 prisoners released are again incarcerated).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Aaron Gould Sheinin and Bill Rankin have the story.

Here’s a clip:

Years ago, Georgia was among the states leading the nation in tough-on-crime sentencing laws. But Georgia now joins a host of other states — including Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina — that have enacted legislation to address soaring prison spending that was doing little to reform offenders. The legislation enjoyed extraordinary bipartisan support, with the final version being approved unanimously by both the House and Senate.

The sentencing reform package, which takes effect July 1, is part of a broader criminal justice initiative pushed by Deal. The Legislature also approved the governor’s recommendation to quintuple funding to $10 million for “accountability courts” that require defendants to work, seek treatment and stay sober.

“As we reserve more of our expensive [prison] bed space for truly dangerous criminals [we] free up revenue to deal with those who are not necessarily dangerous but are in many ways in trouble because of various addictions,” Deal said. “Our system is feeding on itself with our recidivism rate being as high as it is. We have the opportunity now to make a difference in the lives of future generations of Georgians.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Listen up, California lawmakers. Why are conservative states like TX and now GA taking the lead in forward thinking and intelligent incarceration policy reform, while y’all are still cowering behind the increasingly flimsy-looking Tough-On-Crime barricade? Yes, realignment was a step. But we need real top-to-bottom sentencing reform—which means, among other things, a sentencing commission that can make informed recommendations that lawmakers actually take seriously.

Really, don’t you feel a tad embarrassed letting Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina zoom past you into the future? Well, don’t you????

Okay. I’m glad we had this little chat.

Posted in Civil Liberties, DEA, Foster Care, Sentencing | 1 Comment »