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Solitary Kids, Leimart Park Stop (Finally!), Gangs and Immigration, and Gay Scouts

May 24th, 2013 by Taylor Walker


A bill that would define and limit the use of solitary confinement for kids in juvenile facilities—SB 61, authored by Sen. Leland Yee—made it through the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday and is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate next week.

Here’s a clip from the update from Sen. Yee’s office:

In 2011, a CDCR internal audit found that youth were often locked up in their cells for over 21 hours a day. In one 15-week period, there were 249 incidents of solitary confinement, and in one case, a youth received only one hour out of his cell in a 10-day period. In local juvenile facilities, there have been reports of youth locked up in isolation for 23 hours a day.

“I felt completely unwanted and unnoticed” said Tanisha Denard, who was held in solitary confinement as a juvenile. “It is by far the worst feeling I have ever experienced.”

“The mission of the juvenile justice system is to offer youth an opportunity for rehabilitation while also promoting public safety” said Dr. Laura Abrams of UCLA. “The use of solitary confinement is counter to these goals. Not only does solitary confinement undermine rehabilitation efforts, but also as the potential to return a young person to society with exacerbated trauma and mental illness that can manifest in violence toward self or others.”

FYI, here are some of the provisions of SB 61:

- Define solitary confinement as the involuntary placement in a room or cell in isolation from persons other than staff and attorneys.

- Provide that solitary confinement shall only be used when a minor poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others or the security of the facility, and all other less restrictive options have been

- Provide that a minor or ward shall only be held in solitary confinement for the minimum time necessary to address the safety risk.

- Empower existing county juvenile justice commissions to report on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities.

(For more recommended reading, Sen. Yee has an excellent editorial on the bill over at U-T San Diego.)


The LA Metro board finally approved funding for an underground metro station in historic Leimart Park, an significant addition to the Crenshaw line that LA Supe. Mark Ridley-Thomas has been pushing hard for since 2011, along with outgoing LA Mayor Villaraigosa.

KPCC’s Corey Moore has the story. Here’s a clip:

The action comes a day after the L.A. City Council committed $40 million in Measure R funds for the station in the culturally historic African American community. And now, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will fund the rest, which in total, amounts to $120 million.

Outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed to make this happen, along with L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sponsored the motion. MTA members voted in favor, 10 to 1. Metro plans to choose a contractor for the project next month.


Several discriminatory immigration reforms were shot down earlier this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, including an amendment authored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that would have banned undocumented immigrants suspected of gang affiliation from becoming legal citizens, even if they had no criminal record. Another rejected amendment by Sen. Grassley would have allowed law enforcement officers to profile based on nation of origin.

Here’s a clip from gang intervention non-profit Homies Unidos Director Alex Sanchez’s letter to supporters:

Thank you for standing up for justice and dignity. Your calls to the Senate Judiciary Committee members helped to defeat three dangerous amendments to the immigration reform bill: Sessions 32, Grassley 43 and Grassley 49. These amendments sought to increase and normalize the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement in our communities. Session’s amendment would have mandated 287(g) nationwide, while Grassley’s amendments would have penalized young people accused of gang membership and allowed profiling based on national origin. Thank you for pushing back against these harmful amendments. We could not have won this without you.

Despite the good news, Graham 3 passed. The amendment requires additional screening for individuals applying for “registered provisional immigration” (RPI) status who are from certain regions or countries deemed national security threats by the Department of Homeland Security. This will likely target individuals from predominantly Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Middle Eastern countries and is a setback against the fight to end racial profiling.

LA Times’ Sandra Hernandez has more on the defeat of Grassley’s amendment targeting suspected gang members. Here’s a clip:

Deporting immigrants who have serious criminal records makes sense as a matter of public safety. The Times’ editorial page has supported such policies. But Grassley’s amendment wouldn’t have furthered that goal. Instead, it sought to exclude immigrants who are suspected of gang membership from legalizing simply because their names appeared on a gang database or on an injunction.

Los Angeles pioneered the use of gang injunctions and databases as a way to help neighborhoods plagued by violence regain control of their streets. But these lists and civil restraining orders aren’t perfect tools. Individuals can find themselves on such lists because of factors like tattoos, style of dress or identification by an informant.


The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end their policy banning gay youth from participating in the program. There is still a ban on openly gay adults acting as leaders, and gay youth can still be forced out of the group when they turn eighteen, but this is a welcomed step in the right direction.

NY Times’ Erik Eckholm has the story. Here’s a clip:

The decision, which followed years of resistance and wrenching internal debate, was widely seen as a milestone for the Boy Scouts, a symbol of traditional America. More than 1,400 volunteer leaders from across the country voted, with more than 60 percent approving a measure that said no youth may be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

The top national leaders of the Boy Scouts had urged the change in the face of vehement opposition from conservative parents and volunteers, some of whom said they would quit the organization. But the decision also put the scouts more in tune with the swift rise in public acceptance of homosexuality, especially among younger parents who are essential to the future of an institution that has been losing members for decades.

The decision is unlikely to bring peace to the Boy Scouts as they struggle to keep a foothold in a swirling cultural landscape, ensuring continued lobbying and debate in the months and year to come. The group put off the even more divisive question of whether to allow openly gay adults and leaders, and those on both sides of the debate predicted that, with the resolution’s passage, the Boy Scouts would soon be forced to start allowing gay adults, whether by lawsuits or embarrassment at the twisted logic of forcing an Eagle Scout who turns 18 to quit.

Posted in Board of Supervisors, immigration, juvenile justice, social justice, solitary, transportation | 2 Comments »

Breaking the Kid Lock-up Cycle, Expo Line Fiasco, LAPD Policy Fights & More

December 2nd, 2010 by Celeste Fremon


The 10-step plan is part of a 65-page report on juvenile reentry commissioned by Ridley-Thomas and prepared by Children Defense Fund staffers, Michelle Newell and Angelica Salazar, who did much of their research when they were at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

While the report is not definitive, it’s smarter than the County’s purported professionals were able to turn out earlier this year, and features many good moments of analysis plus that list of sensible suggestions.

It is also an excellent place to start a conversation.

Here’s a snippet from its executive summary:

With the largest juvenile justice system in the country, LA County has high rates of youth incarceration. For most juvenile offenders, this incarceration will take place in one of the 19 County probation camps, or residential facilities, and these youth will be released after less than a year and face the challenge of reentering their communities.

Reentry is challenging regardless of the population, but for juvenile offenders it is particularly complicated given the range of developmental changes these youth are experiencing. In Los Angeles, these youth are burdened by high rates of mental illness and substance abuse, low rates of educational attainment and alarmingly high levels of gang involvement. Given these barriers, it is perhaps not surprising that juveniles are currently not successful in reentering their communities. Re-offending rates are high, and while the County Probation Department does not collect much outcome data, available evidence indicates youth outcomes are grim…

Ridley-Thomas and Edelman will be holding a press conference at 1:30 pm Thursday to introduce the report and the 10-step plan. The presser will be held in Ridley-Thomas’s office, in the Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple Street, LA.


LA Police Protective League president, Paul Weber, has an op ed in Thursday’s LA Times that explains a bit more about why the union is fighting the mayor’s and Chief Charlie Beck’s collective promise to hire more police officers.

Weber says the department should first use its existing officers more wisely. Here’s a clip.

When the City Council voted to raise trash fees in 2006, the action came with a promise to Angelenos that the money would be put toward expanding the Los Angeles police force to more than 10,000 officers. But even as we’ve moved closer to meeting that goal on paper, the number of officers on the street is being eroded.

Because of attrition, early retirement incentives and mandatory furloughs, the number of police officers doing actual police work is gradually declining, and the problem is becoming more acute.

One huge reason is that the city is no longer paying officers for overtime. There is no way to avoid overtime in police work: An officer making an arrest, say, can’t simply let a suspect go because a work shift has ended….

PS: For the record, I think the department should keep hiring, but let’s not use cops for jobs that non-sworn folks could do cheaper (and just as well).


By sheer coincidence, former LAPD chief Bill Bratton indirectly addressed the issue when he was in London consulting with the Brits on policing and gave an interview to some local press:

“In terms of creating safer communities, cops count and policing does matter. But successful policing is not only about making the right investments in law enforcement. You cannot spend your way to a safer community and it isn’t about how much money you spend, or how many staff you have on the payroll.

“It’s about what you do with your most valuable asset - the sworn officer….

(My ital.)


The LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus has written a terrific article in Thursday’s edition of the paper that shows LA’s light rail project to be both horribly over budget and a projected 2 years over its deadline for completion.

Oh, yeah, the project’s CEO, Rick Thorpe, lives in Utah, not LA, and is collecting a salary of $334,000. As Maddaus points out, Thorpe, who oversees a staff of 16, makes more than the CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, who is responsible for 8,000 employees (!!!)


Neon Tommy’s Callie Schweitzer writes about 21-year-old University of California, Berkeley senior Ricardo Gomez, who has been arrested twice for protesting in what is “part of a growing student movement fighting tuition increases in the 10-campus system.”

Read the rest here.


The details are in an unsettling LA Times Op Ed by Alan Dershowitz and David Rivkin Jr.


The LA Times’ lovely, smart, talented, soulful columnist, Meghan Daum, was scarily sick last month and writes about it well in two parts – here and here.

(A lot of us are just very glad she’s okay. We didn’t like that tubed up and skating-the-edge thingy one bit.)


Posted in Bill Bratton, Charlie Beck, juvenile justice, LAPD, LAPPL, Probation, transportation, Violence Prevention | 10 Comments »

Calling on Arianna and Co. to Do Their Part for California

June 17th, 2009 by


    Where’s Sacramento? Who cares? You’d find better ideas for solving the budget mess on this crowded 720 bus on Wilshire Boulevard.

Pardon me, but I’m on a long ride around town trying to come up with ways to help the state budget. Here’s my list that calls on sacrifices by everyone from Arianna Huffington to annoying golfers who stifle American productivity by playing their silly game. Hold on, these taxes would also address some of the major problems, personality and otherwise, plaguing L.A. and the state.

Hypocrisy Tax: Charge every board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $200 every time they drive a car and fail to take a bus or train to a meeting. Revenue estimate: $500,000

Mental Health Tax: Let’s admit the psychological benefits of tobacco and open smoking rooms in all public buildings. Admission would be $5 a day or $300 for an annual pass. Revenue estimate: $1 million a year.

Rudeness Tax: Charge elected officials $1,000 every time they get distracted at a public meeting and start talking to their colleagues instead of listening to a staff report or a member of the public during the ever-dwindling time for public comment. Revenue estimate: $35 million, with half of that paid by chatty L.A. City Council members.

Newspaper Burial Tax: One cause of the decline of newspapers in America today is Arianna Huffington, the Brentwood online publisher who steals much of her content by telling writers she helps their reputations instead of their pocketbooks. Now she’ll pay $2,000 for every piece she runs without compensation. Revenue estimate: $10 million.

Golfer’s Tax: Anyone with four of five hours on their hands to hit springy balls hundreds of yards around water-sucking lawns in the middle of our desert, and avoid real exercise by riding in a cart, can afford this $100-a-game fee: Revenue estimate: $30 million

Sky-is-falling Tax: Blogger and secession activist Ron Kaye must pay $1,000 a day if he ever fails to file a post that in some way pushes for felony indictments of what he likes to call the bums at City Hall who are robbing his valley residents blind. Revenue estimate: $1,000, for that day every year when he writes about the birds nesting in his yard.

Jack Weiss Lecture Series: The unloved and prickly failed candidate for city attorney shares his tips about meeting constituent needs and forging alliances during his tempestuous years on the L.A. City Council, in monthly forums in Taper Auditorium at the main public library. Admission: $25 or $100 for the annual series of five lectures. Revenue estimate: $125, assuming his family shows up.

Posted in Future of Journalism, Government, transportation | 27 Comments »

Driven (Partly) Sane by Congestion Pricing

June 12th, 2009 by


    Ugly Secret: They never were free

If it were up to me, trucks and solo drivers would be banned from all L.A. freeways during rush hour. Carpools would not be two people; they would be a driver and at least two passengers. Buses would be free for all. Fares would be low for light-rail and subways. We would be happy to pay higher taxes because the 20,000 premature deaths blamed every year on air pollution would drop.

Believe it or not, we’re headed there–slowly, and in very small steps. For the next couple weeks, the public will be weighing in on a congestion pricing program that will allow solo drivers to pay to drive in carpool lanes on stretches of the I-110 and I-10. Ladies and gentlemen, you can deal with it. The revolution has not begun.

Of course, foes abound. I suspect that L.A. Times’ columnist Tim Rutten represents the thinking of many people as he tried to tear apart the plan this week. He was not particularly well-informed and chose either to ignore important elements that address low-income drivers, public transit, the environment and health benefits, or maybe he didn’t read the entire plan. But fully weigh his views, particularly his demeaning example of a fictional mom working downtown who is rushing to care for her sick child at a Westside daycare. Here’s his column.

Make sure you read this overwrought line about the poor mom:

A society that can rationalize the imposition of such pain doesn’t need to worry over how to define equity; it needs to worry about its soul.

Note to Rutten: Rework the soul scold after doing some research on ultrafine particle pollution and learning how millions of microscopic specks that can fit on a nailhead find their way into lungs, hearts and brains of Los Angeles residents. These particles contribute to the respiratory ills that sicken and kill thousands every year. No society can allow this to continue.

Rutten’s screed got the attention of the public affairs department at Metro. Score one for Marc Littman and Rick Jager. They posted a response to Rutten’s shallow and misleading arguments on Metro’s Web site today.

They shot down his arguments by addressing the full range of alternatives offered by the program:

This program provides the single mother with additional choices, some of which may be preferable to her. Through the $200 million in transit improvements along with the creation of the ExpressLanes, one new choice would be to take better and more reliable transit to avoid the highway traffic. Another choice based on the program would be to enter the toll lanes and save essential time. That choice could be made easier if she uses credits that she has built up by using transit, an element we’re including in the program specifically for lower-income commuters.

Mr. Rutten seems to suggest single moms will have difficulty making decisions when facing traffic congestion. Single moms respond every day to changing circumstances and choices that are far more complex. Traffic doesn’t have to be like the weather. We may not be able to transform it altogether, but we can have choices to make it better — for everyone. That’s the point of this program.

Pick a side, any side, and show up at a public hearing, starting Saturday. Here’s the schedule.

Posted in environment, Government, health care, journalism, Los Angeles Times, transportation | 15 Comments »