MORE ON THE CAMP KILPATRICK SPORTS CAMP STORY
Late last month, WLA posted a three-part story about LA County Probation’s Kilpatrick sports camp for locked-up kids (here, here, and here).
When it became clear that the scheduled demolition and renovation of the physical camp did not include space for the popular sports program, advocates, parents, and coaches rallied to save the camp. A study was ordered to measure the effectiveness of the program. Two years later, the study has come in and found that the sports program does indeed measurably help kids in a multiplicity of ways.
Now, Probation Chief Jerry Powers has come up with a plan to save the program and relaunch it for the fall 2014 sports season at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center camp in the Antelope Valley.
In the course of the study, researchers interviewed former Kilpatrick kids on various aspects of the program, including what they liked about it, and areas they thought could use improvement. The LA Times’ Sandy Banks takes a fresh look at the study, and includes quotes from the kids’ interviews. Here’s a clip:
The sports study — which looked at Los Angeles County probation records for hundreds of youths — offers a troubling snapshot of young lives.
Many of the boys had gang associations. Most came from unstable homes or were in foster care. Nine in 10 had substance abuse issues; almost as many had mental health problems. Almost all were failing, acting out or not showing up for school. Two-thirds had been in trouble with the law before. Their most recent offenses included robberies, assaults and weapons violations.
The study was not able to prove that the athletes did better in the long term than youths who were not on the teams. But there was a clear improvement in school attendance and performance. However when it came to returning to crime, or recidivism, the athletes did better only for the first six months of freedom.
“Clearly, there’s a positive impact,” said Cal State L.A. professor Denise Herz, the research team leader. “But the key is, they go back into the same environment… without much support.”
The interviews with former athletes described lives of constant upheaval, and explained how the sports teams filled gaps in their upbringing.
There was discipline there, where there was no discipline at home. The coaches… they worked with us, they tried to keep us motivated, I mean I still call them to this day.
To have that male figure around you that can give you a man’s perspective, and to hear a man’s voice. You know what I’m saying? It’s priceless.
Does the Kilpatrick sports model inoculate young men against the lure of the streets? Certainly not. But it can clear vision muddied by history and teach important life skills.
Probation department officials recognize that. Last week, they announced that the sports program won’t be disbanded but will move to the Challenger Memorial Youth Center camp in the Antelope Valley. Teams will resume play in their California Interscholastic Federation league this fall.
Go read the rest.
LA COUNTY SUPES TO LOBBY SACRAMENTO FOR EXTRA FUNDING FOR OVERBURDENED LAWYERS REPRESENTING FOSTER KIDS
On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to lobby the state capital to allocate an extra $33.1 million in funding for lawyers appointed to foster children across California.
In LA County, these lawyers, like social workers, are spread far too thin, and are responsible for nearly twice the maximum number of cases recommended by the Judicial Council of California.
KPCC’s Rina Palta has the story. Here’s a clip:
With about 30,000 children in the foster care system in Los Angeles, each attorney is responsible for an average of 308 cases, said Leslie Heimov, executive director of the nonprofit Children’s Law Center, which provides attorneys to all foster kids in L.A. and Sacramento counties.
That’s nearly double the maximum caseload of 188 per attorney recommended by the Judicial Council of California. The optimal caseload would be 77 children per attorney.
“It’s huge, more than ‘a lot,’ if you look at the recommendations from various entities,” Heimov said.
She said the sky-high caseloads are a result of budgets not keeping up with growing numbers of children in foster care.
The numbers make it difficult for attorneys to advocate for the best interests of the children, she said, and turnover among attorneys has increased.
“Attorneys don’t have any time to do anything but the absolute bare minimum, instead of the maximum, and that’s not how any of us want to practice,” Heimov said. “So it also has a significant impact on burnout.”
Judge Michael Nash, the presiding judge of LA county’s juvenile court, says that the money will help, but it’s not enough:
The only long term solution, in Nash’s opinion, is reducing the number of kids in the foster care system.
“More of these cases could be resolved effectively outside of the court system,” Nash said. “The courts should not be the first resort for these issues.”
A FATHER’S TAKE ON STOP-AND-FRISK
In a compelling piece for the Atlantic, Christopher E. Smith (a criminal justice professor at Michigan State), a white man with a black son and in-laws, tells of the impact of stop-and-frisk on his family members of color, and of the constant state of fear he lives in for the safety of his son. Here’s how it opens:
When I heard that my 21-year-old son, a student at Harvard, had been stopped by New York City police on more than one occasion during the brief summer he spent as a Wall Street intern, I was angry. On one occasion, while wearing his best business suit, he was forced to lie face-down on a filthy sidewalk because—well, let’s be honest about it, because of the color of his skin. As an attorney and a college professor who teaches criminal justice classes, I knew that his constitutional rights had been violated. As a parent, I feared for his safety at the hands of the police—a fear that I feel every single day, whether he is in New York or elsewhere.
Moreover, as the white father of an African-American son, I am keenly aware that I never face the suspicion and indignities that my son continuously confronts. In fact, all of the men among my African-American in-laws—and I literally mean every single one of them—can tell multiple stories of unjustified investigatory police stops of the sort that not a single one of my white male relatives has ever experienced.
In The Atlantic’s April feature story “Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?” author Daniel Bergner cited Professor Frank Zimring’s notion that stop-and-frisk is “a special tax on minority males.” I cannot endorse the conclusion that this “special tax” actually helps make communities safer. As indicated by the competing perspectives in Atlantic essays by Donald Braman and Paul Larkin, scholars disagree on whether crime rate data actually substantiate the claims of stop-and-frisk advocates. Either way, I do believe that the concept of a “special tax” deserves closer examination.
Proponents of stop-and-frisk often suggest that the hardships suffered by young men of color might be tolerable if officers were trained to be polite rather than aggressive and authoritarian. We need to remember, however, that we are talking about imposing an additional burden on a demographic that already experiences a set of alienating “taxes” not shared by the rest of society.
I can tell myriad stories about the ways my son is treated with suspicion and negative presumptions in nearly every arena of his life. I can describe the terrorized look on his face when, as a 7-year-old trying to learn how to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our suburban house, he was followed at 2-miles-per-hour from a few feet away by a police patrol car—a car that sped away when I came out of the front door to see what was going on. I can tell stories of teachers, coaches, and employers who have forced my son to overcome a presumption that he will cause behavior problems or that he lacks intellectual capability. I can tell you about U.S. Customs officials inexplicably ordering both of us to exit our vehicle and enter a building at the Canadian border crossing so that a team of officers could search our car without our watching—an event that never occurs when I am driving back from Canada by myself.
If I hadn’t witnessed all this so closely, I never would have fully recognized the extent of the indignities African-American boys and men face. Moreover, as indicated by research recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the cumulative physical toll this treatment takes on African-American men can accelerate the aging process and cause early death. Thus, no “special tax” on this population can be understood without recognizing that it does not exist as a small, isolated element in people’s lives…
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN OBSERVED SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT VALUE SYSTEM
On Monday, we pointed to a lawsuit filed last week alleging sexual assault by an LASD deputy clique called the “Banditos,” and sheriff candidate James Hellmold’s prank call (in which he seemed to use a South Asian accent).
An LA Times editorial says that, in the wake of these controversial stories (and previous scandals), campaigning sheriff candidates should focus on their own value systems and how they plan to make sure their standards are followed by the rank and file. Here are some clips:
Each Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is supposed to carry a card at all times that sets forth the department’s core values, embodied in a single sentence pledging respect, integrity, wisdom and “the courage to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and bigotry in all its forms.”
The card has been variously called inspirational and plain silly, but if it’s silly, its silliness lies not in the values expressed but in the notion that words on a card could, by themselves, imbue deputies with values that they do not already hold or that are not instilled in them in training and reinforced each day on the job.
News reports and anecdotal tales of inmate abuse, the hazing of new deputies and disrespect paid to the communities it is supposed to protect suggest that the department has a long way to go to make its core values more than words on a card.
There is a danger that the departure of Sheriff Lee Baca under a cloud created by his own mismanagement could be taken by those vying to replace him as an invitation to throw out everything he brought with him — the good as well as the bad, the vision as well as the often-sloppy implementation, the values as well as the card.
The sheriff is one of only three officials elected countywide to represent 10 million people, and the only one with uniformed officers acting as ambassadors to every corner of the county. They will be emissaries either for a system of gang-like cliques and frat-like pranks or for a culture of dignity and respect…
AND IN LA TIMES-RELATED NEWS…
Robert Faturechi will no longer be covering the LASD for the LA Times. We will miss his fine and important reporting.
He has passed the torch to Cindy Chang, who previously covered immigration and ethnic culture. Welcome, Cindy!
Faturechi tweeted the news on Tuesday:
Robert Faturechi @RobertFaturechi
there’s a new sheriff (reporter) in town. I’ll be helping out for a couple more weeks, but @cindychangLA is now covering LASD.