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Update On the Fate of LA Juvenile Probation’s Sports Program, GOP Platform Calls for More Inmate Rehabilitation…and More


There are concerns that Camp Kilpatrick, an aging LA County juvenile probation camp scheduled to undergo a $41M renovation, will not resume its well-known sports program once the facility is rebuilt. Kilpatrick is the only juvie detention facility that has a sports program for the kids. (You can read WitnessLA’s previous post on Kilpatrick here.) The issue was discussed Tuesday during the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Zev Yaroslavsky, who coauthored a motion with Mark Ridley-Thomas, urged the board to proceed with a motion that would have Probation Chief Jerry Powers commission a study gauging the benefits of sports programs for incarcerated youth. (Apparently there are few, if any, studies on the ability of inter-mural sports programs to lower recidivism in incarcerated kids.) All members seemed to agree that the sports program should resume once Kilpatrick reopens. Ridley-Thomas had this to say:

“The sports program at Camp Kilpatrick has already been widely acknowledged… The work that is happening at Camp Kilpatrick to make it a better environment is essentially the principle cause for the temporary—and I want to underscore ‘temporary’—termination of the sports program there… I think it’s fair to suggest that there is no intention on the part of this board to terminate the sports program…”

Sup. Knabe suggested looking at another evaluation of a different program that the Supervisors had previously ordered up a couple of years ago, this one of the outcomes for probationers who, after they were released, went through a program at Homeboy industries. “…If I could make a friendly amendment to include that comparison,” he said.

The question seems to be whether or not a study is necessary to include sports programs in the “evidence-based” treatment programs that the DOJ requires. (We at WitnessLA think that including money for program evaluation in funding is a good thing! These studies and evaluations allow us to see what works, what doesn’t, and give us an idea of what might work better.)

Here’s a clip from Yaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas’ motion:

The County Probation Department is under ongoing U.S. Department of Justice scrutiny of the facilities and programming it provides for its young wards. The U.S. DOJ requires that the county offer “evidence-based integrated treatment programs.” While such activities as group therapy sessions and mental health counseling have been proven through rigorous study to help the plight of these teenagers and reduce recidivism, intermural sports programs have not been similarly studied. There is apparently no “evidence” to show that participation in team sports can play a positive role in rehabilitating these young people.

Recent history, however, suggests otherwise. The 2006 film “Gridiron Gang” portrayed real-life Camp Kilpatrick wards learning to play football and win together despite coming from rival gangs. In 2010, the Camp Kilpatrick basketball team made the state play-offs, failed to advance to the championship game but nonetheless won its league Sportsmanship Award. In 2011, a team from neighboring Camp David Gonzalez competed successfully in an intermural contest to design, build and race a solar-powered boat. While these small triumphs may not speak to long-term therapeutic advancement or reductions in recidivism, they do seem to provide concrete “evidence” of pro-social behavior among these troubled youth.

Also, if you feel so inclined, you can read Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting transcript here.


While the newly adopted Republican platform supports capital punishment, the Defense of Marriage Act, and Arizona’s immigration laws, it also called for better inmate rehabilitation and recidivism reduction strategies—which is one thing that both parties can agree upon.

The Crime Report’s Ted Gest has the story. Here’s a clip:

The platform endorsed “new approaches, often called accountability courts,” and said, “government at all levels should work with faithbased institutions that have proven track records in diverting young and first time, non-violent offenders from criminal careers.” Republicans back state and local initiatives “trying new approaches to curbing drug abuse and diverting firsttime offenders to rehabilitation.” The platform assailed federal “overcriminalization,” noting that the number of U.S. criminal offenses has jumped from 3,000 in the early 1980s to 4,450 in 2008. It says Congress “should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created tens of thousands of criminal offenses.”

You can access the complete GOP platform here.


New York prisons are implementing a new video conference visitation system for those prisoners who are locked up in facilities far away from their families. This would be great to see instituted in CA, where most prisons are in remote locations, making visits for working family members and kids extremely difficult.

The New York Daily News’ Oren Yaniv has the story. Here’s how it opens:

Tayshona McDuffie used to meet her inmate mother only twice a year after making a grueling, 400-mile journey to a prison near the Canadian border.

These days, the daughter gets to see her mom twice each month while sitting in a videoconference room in downtown Brooklyn.

“It improves our relationship,” said McDuffie, 19, whose mother is nearing the end of a 12-year sentence for an assault conviction. “I look forward to it every month.”

The fledging program of prison visits via closed-circuit TV — the first one in the state — is set to more than quadruple in size this fall, the Daily News has learned.

“The research shows that people will do better when they’re released if they stay connected with their families,” said Elizabeth Gaynes, executive director of the Osborne Association, a nonprofit that has been conducting the meetings known as televisits for the past two years.


  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio & Arizona immigration: The Associated Press is reporting today that Federal authorities are closing their abuse-of-power investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio without filing any charges. This will undoubtedly affect the Civil Trial on the same subject.
    Full particulars http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120831/APA/1208311067

    Rehabilitation & Recidivism: A Community College up in the Sierras for State Prison inmates. If they don’t knuckle down & do their home/class work they get rolled back up to The Yard.
    Lessee what that does for Rehabilitation & Recidivism.

    Cal-Fire has inmate Forestry camps where State Prison inmates fight forest fires, clear brush, etc. and this seems to be working well re: rehabilitation & recidivism, so why not a Community College, where misbehavior means getting rolled up back to The Yard.

  • Sports and education yes they go together it’s best to encourage in both for these juveniles

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