THE LATEST DOJ REPORT FUELS RENEWED SPECULATION THAT A FEDERAL CONSENT DECREE MIGHT BE IN THE FUTURE FOR LA COUNTY’S TROUBLED PROBATION CAMPS
This past Friday the Federal monitors representing US Department of Justice delivered their 145 page response to LA County Probation’s claims that its juvenile camps were mostly “In compliance” with the Feds’ 41 demands for reform spelled out four years ago in a 2008 Memorandum of Agreement.
Not so fast, said the monitors in the report— which WitnessLA has acquired.
When, on November 6, 2006, the US Department of Justice began investigating LA’s juvenile probation camps, investigators found the facilities rife with horrors. Probation officers batted kids around, instigated fights (some of which were caught on video and wound up on YouTube) or looked the other way when one group of kids pounded another. Staff also made kids stand or sit in body-stressing positions for long periods, kept them in solitary confinement for even longer periods as punishment, randomly denied them bathroom breaks, recreational time and/or medical treatment, failed to check on kids who were on suicide watch, pepper sprayed teenagers over trivialities, and drank alcohol on the job—among other transgressions and illegalities.
Now, said the monitors in the new report, the worst of the rampant abuse and neglect in the camps had pretty much been halted, although there was still lots of room for improvement.
And thankfully the staff, for the most part, wasn’t drinking on the job.
But, after 4 years under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice, although most kids weren’t being actively abused, they weren’t being helped either, said the monitors, particularly when it came to mental and emotional health, substance abuse—and overall rehabilitation. Probation has little or nothing in the way of positive outcomes to show for its supposed progress in these areas. And in many of the camps they have they don’t have the required rehabilitative programs in place at all.
“These camps are not meant to be punishment for the kids we send there,” said a source close to the federal monitors. “They’re supposed to rehabilitate. And that’s still not happening.”
So now the big question is: Will the Feds take over the the juvenile facilities with a Federal Consent Decree?
Observers are split on whether the Feds will step in— or will they give probation one more chance now that Probation has a brand new head guy, Chief Jerry Powers, who started last Monday.
LA County Board of Supervisors has a committee of staffers meeting today, Wednesday, to discuss the Fed monitors’ comments and instructions—and what, if anything, to do in response.
(MORE ON THE REPORT AND ITS MEANING SHORTLY)
MEANWHILE LA’S CITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR MORE CONTROL OVER THE $2000 LUNCH -EATING HOUSING AUTHORITY
After the $1.2-million golden parachute handed to HACLA’s ousted head, and jaw-dropping spending for trips, meals and “employee incentives,” the LA City Council thinks maybe there should be a bit more city oversight of the agency. (Ya think?)
The LA Times David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison have the story.
Controller Wendy Greuel also has a new report on the drunken-sailor-spending HACLA folks.