In what appears to be a completely unprecedented action, on Wednesday, March 22, the statewide organization known as the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) sent out press release asking state and county leaders to put Los Angeles County’s juvenile facilities, most particularly the county’s two deeply troubled juvenile halls, into “a narrowly tailored” court receivership.
“Los Angeles is facing an extraordinary, urgent crisis that needs swift action and extraordinary change, which is difficult to do without a solution that can remove the conflicting politics of various stakeholders and severe labor shortages,” wrote Karen Pank, the executive director of the organization.
The fact that the problems now facing LA County Probation’s youth facilities are both chronic and urgent was made very clear in early February of this year when the members of the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) released a report showing that Los Angeles County Probation’s two main youth lock-ups — Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall — were extravagantly out of compliance when it came to even the most basic standards of care and safety for the kids in residence at the two facilities.
Since then, however, conditions have not gotten better. If anything, they have gotten worse.
According to WitnessLA’s sources who work at the two halls, the main change that has taken place since the BSCC report was released is that the board of supervisors fired LA County Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales, and moved up his second-in-command to the position of interim chief.
On Tuesday of this week, however, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed several motions that, in combination, are aimed at precipitating large changes in the way Los Angeles County deals with the young people in the care of its youth probation system.
Yet, Wednesday’s startling call by the CPOC for the governor or the state legislature, or both, to step in and take matters out of LA County’s hands by creating the limited court receivership suggests that, while the board’s recent motions are good, in the eyes of this traditionally conservative statewide group, a far more immediate kind of action is critically needed.
We’ll have more on this matter later. So watch this space.