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The Unholy Mess That is LA County’s Juvenile Probation

June 9th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

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While we were focused on the elections,
on Monday, Los Angeles County CEO, Bill Fujioka, issued a jaw dropping report having to do with LA County Probation’s use of money intended to improve matters in the county’s juvenile facilities.

To put this into context you first need to know that, for a decade, Probation has been teetering on the edge of a civil rights lawsuit threatened by the US Department of Justice because of the lousy conditions in many of the county’s juvenile probation camps and juvenile halls.  (The LA Times’ Garette Theroff has the details on the looming lawsuit.)

However, after all these years of warnings, it seems that Probation is still not even close to compliance.

To help alleviate some of the DOJ-flagged problems, and thus stave off the lawsuit, some time back Probation was given $79.5 million to hire 901 more staffers for the juvenile facilities.

In April, the LA County Board of Supervisors asked Probation to give an accounting of how that nearly $80 mill had been spent.

Probation’s answer? It didn’t…um… exactly know.

“Because of the inadequacy of Probation’s records, the (CEO’s office) is not able to verify … whether all of the funds were expended for their intended purpose,” [CEO Bill Fujioka's] report says. Staffers “cannot report with certainty which positions were hired or where those staff were deployed.”

It gets worse, as KPCC and the Daily News report:

Donald Blevins, who took over as the county’s chief probation officer in April, said a sample review of the department’s Downey facility showed that 146 of 548 employees reportedly working at that location were actually deployed elsewhere.

The Downey facility accounts for about 10 percent of the department’s total workforce. Blevins estimated that as many as 1,500 to 2,000 employees overall may be working somewhere other than reported.

As a result, it’s possible that the department employs “ghost employees” or “people who are collecting a paycheck but not showing up every day,” said Supervisor Gloria Molina.

In other words, it is not merely that as many as 2000 employees are not where they’re needed, it is that a good number of them, while collecting paychecks, may be nowhere at all.

And no one noticed? Really? How is that freaking possible?

Did I mention that the alarming financial report was requested only after Probation asked the Board of Sups for another $27.8 million in funds?

Mind you, this is the same group that is being sued by the ACLU for “Dickensian” conditions at a cluster of its camps (Camp Challenger), and by its own admission is preposterously behind in investigating complaints of abuse by staff members of the juveniles in its care..

But, hey, it’s just law-breaking kids we’re talking about. Evidently, their well-being is not all that high on LA County Probation’s priority list.

More on the story as it unfolds.

Posted in juvenile justice, Probation | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. CA. Trouble in Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Halls « The Truth about Prone Restraint Says:

    [...] week there were the revelations that LA County Probation could not adequately account for $79 million—nearly a tenth of its [...]

  2. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Probation Chief Jerry Powers and 4 Probation Unions Get into A Very Ugly Battle Says:

    [...] we reported last October, the county’s juvenile probation camps, while not rife with the same level of ghastly staff behavior that brought the feds in 2006, are still, by and large, not places you would send a kid you cared [...]

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