CA’s Chief Probation Officers call for immediate limited court receivership for LA County’s youth facilities

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

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 county’s juvenile facilities, Pank wrote, “have become unrecognizable in comparison to facilities across the state due to the deep systemic challenges and the differences in policy and operations only found in Los Angeles County.”

Not good.

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.


  • The entire read from CPOC was interesting. CPOC recognizes that the L.A BOS and you child advocates destroyed the Department. Destroyed it to tbe point that all the other counties are shocked and probably asking themselves “what the hell is happening in L.A County?” The destruction continues and as things get worse, blaming the Probation Dept also continues.

  • “The serious issues facing LA did not happen overnight. It has built up over time with a series of overreaction or under-reaction of multiple smaller issues overlaid by decisions that did not consider the careful balance necessary to be successful. The unintended consequences have left a system of officers and staff who dedicated themselves to a mission to best serve youth under their supervision to something they no longer recognize.”
    I’d say yhat these unintended consequences weree caused by LA BOS and the all knowing child advocates. Their intentions were good, but they failed to hear out the staff that actually work with these juveniles. Should’ve listened.

  • Shame!- on the Board of Supervisors past and present. Given every opportunity to invest in these young people, the Supervisors have opted to add to the pain rather than be champions of healing and service. It is the Board that holds the purse strings and they play the lead role in this failure. The Probation Department, despite all of its great flaws, takes it because, unlike the elected justice leadership, the department is the easiest of marks. Has been ever since cherished Gloria Molina publicly humiliated Paul Higa who died shortly thereafter. The supervisors make it too easy on them selves and that is why there has no Chief promoted from within since Higa died.

    It is the Board that has waged war by not modernizing the facilities. It is the Board that destroyed the Department’s prevention programs for an ill conceived Department of Youth Development (give me a break). Shame on all of us for not doing better for not standing up to you. You salivating maggot advocates can feast on this for now but the tables will turn on your wokeness – mark my words. These five women (and their predecessors) are undoubtedly filled with glee at their crude emasculation of a key and crucial player that places a key and crucial in the justice system ecology. And Celeste, you just eat it up.

  • The Probation Dept. has changed a lot and its not the officers is the BOS they changed the culture the policies and their mind set to “Care first Jails Last” and this in fact has had no funding for the institutions. Officers do not receive any protected gear no pepper spray no tactics for self defense totally nothing. The training camp is based in a small elementary school that still has monkey bars and the urine sinks are so small and close to the ground it seems like there is nothing there. I’ve heard stories that every officer that restrained a minor gets investigated, The main focus is the new dept. The “DYD” and all funding is going there not Probation. Keep in mind Probation is separated by Field and Institutions the problem is not in the field but in the institutions but the whole dept. is getting blamed.

  • The BOS, should know that they created this problem by taking away the essential tools probations officers need to run the facilities.The outside child advocacy agencies come in for five minutes and make changes. They don’t work in these facilites because they would not survive an 8 hour shift in these halls. Most of these juveniles who are incarcerated are either charged with murder or convicted of murder. So we should just overlook the victims????? Probation officers should just overlook the victims who died ???? The minors are not being denied their basic daily rights they go into class and assault school employees and prevent a conducive learning environment. The minors assault staff on a daily basis because they know Gascon is not filing assault charges on them. But yet the state wants to take over please give me a break if you think by wounding the probation department and stripping them if their job duties is going to fix the problem. They are making this problem worse. I wish the DYD luck in trying to solve the problem but they will also being assaulted by these so called youth who need care. The BOS does not know what they are doing but just trying to privatize the juvenile halls.

  • i saw how the union’s officer F got wrecked in the BOS questioning. I’ve told everyone over and over. THE UNION allowed this to happen. There should be NO REASON why a bureau chief rises to the rank from data analyst positions. clerical positions. investigator aid positions. moment control positions. you have supervisors who were answering phones at the juvenile halls who are in charge. one of the bureau chiefs that spoke yesterday never even worked a unit and they speak on your behalf? please

    I can name a bunch of names. It all comes back to the Union. they allowed this to happen. there are a lot of DPO II and DPO I who have no business being were they were at. Administration allowed them to be placed in a position that better fits their needs. The field staff that were working day in and out in buildings have been fired or resigned. You can’t allow to accommodate weak staff over and over because eventually you will only have weak staff. but in the words of the union, there are no weak or hood staff. we just have staff.

    The UNION WILL NOT RUFFLE ANY FEATHERS. They don’t want to get reassigned to facilities or positions that are unfavorable. union stewards get time off their assignments to represent you, the line staff. they don’t care. they laugh with investigators at you. they know if your case is going to win or lose.

    this has been set in motion for 20 years. the union keeps defending staff that should have been fired years ago. look at the dpo ii or supervisors at sylmar and cjh coming in now. a lot of them worked at headquarters or had special assignments in juvenile hall. they wouldn’t be able to run board now, or back then when we had 30-40 kids per side. not per unit. staff sleeping with kids. staff selling contraband to kids. staff sleeping with mental health staff. staff and nurse personnel selling weed. staff making false claims just to get people fired for personal reasons. staff being unable to work a unit so they demote and te promote to easier assignment. staff who rap and promotes music to kids. staff being to cute to be in a regular unit. these people are leading the charge now. good luck

    there are still a few, very few left, staff who could control and run a unit with just by showing up and breathing. kids respected because of fairness and not being afraid. not by beating up kids. those are the staff that got fired or quit

    shut it down and start again.

  • Yeah, I should have mentioned in my earlier comment that the AFSCME Local 685 with its self-neutered leadership is no longer the player it once. One would think that the union would have a word with its chicken-$%#t members who have abandoned their jobs and get them back to work, if for no other reason than to improve their own safety conditions… speaking of which, isn’t the union’s key role in all of this, their basic reason for existence, to demand a safe workplace environment. This must include demands for appropriate training – even if OC spray is banned. Other than that, nothing to see here – just the implosion. Its like watching the slow-mo demolition of an old Vegas hotel. Lots of clicks.

  • Memphis Mike! I like that name. These comments are on point!
    The BOS and POC helped destroy the LA Probation Department. They villified the structure and regimentation that help instill discipline and consistency in the minors lives. Citing it as child abuse. Removing confinement as a form of a “time out” created a culture of no accountability. AFSCME Local 685 is a feckless organization that’s dead in the water. They’ve been tacetly approving these failed policies and helped fund the political campaigns if the same politicians that are advocating against probation and law enforcement overall.
    The department’s political managers, the BOS, and the POC need to get out of the way and allow the people that know how to do the job to run the department.
    At this point, the juvies are a broken paradygm. They’re a failed social experiment. Enough with throwing bodies at the problem. Go on and give the DYD the juvenile halls once and for all. Let the field deputies go back to work on their caseloads. Let the DYD find out for itself.

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