The LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Donald H. Blevins as the new head of County Probation Department on Tuesday.
And most people didn’t notice—-and if they did, they didn’t care.
But they should care. We all should care.
For one thing, the new chief will oversee an LA County agency with a $692.8 million budget.
(To give you a reference point, the entire LA City Fire Department has a budget of $533 million.)
For another thing, every kid who runs afoul of the law in Los Angeles City or County will likely either be sent into some kind of juvenile detention facility run by Mr. Blevins and his agency. Or he or she will be given probation wth a probation officer who will soon also be under Mr. Blevins jurisdiction.
This also means that the various programs that are purportedly designed to help our county’s lawbreaking kids come out better from their detention experience (or their probation experience), than they went in, will also be under Mr. Blevins care and control.
Rhus Mr. Blevins has a number of big challenges ahead of him when he takes over the post on April 19..
The LA County probation camps in particular, are becoming increasingly scandal-ridden.
For instance, there was a lawsuit brought against LA County by the Southern California ACLU and others last month regarding the treatment of adolescents at the county’s Camp Challenger where the court filing outlines Dickensian conditions.
I have heard repeatedly that the Camp Challenger lawsuit is the tip of the probation camp iceberg. And when I spoke to a County government insider yesterday, he did nothing to disabuse of that perspective. Instead he admitted that he too had heard that things were bad in the camps, worse than had yet been made public.
So who is this Donald H. Blevins and what can we expect of him?
We know that he is the former head of probation for Alameda County. But what else should we know?
(To be continued…)