Department of Justice Foster Care LASD

LA Housing Authority Will Pay $2 Million for Antelope Valley Housing Discrimination…Bill to Limit Drugging of CA Foster Kids Won’t Fix the Problem


On Monday, the US Department of Justice announced a settlement with the Housing Authority of Los Angeles County (HACLA), as well as the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, after a DOJ investigation into an alleged inter-agency pattern of housing discrimination.

In April, the DOJ agreed on a separate court-enforceable settlement with LA County to reform the Lancaster and Palmdale sheriff’s stations. The settlements follow two years after a 46-page “findings” letter from the DOJ detailing systemic discrimination against black (and to a lesser extent, Latino) Antelope Valley residents. The DOJ investigation found that officers from the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Antelope Valley stations were conducting racially biased searches and seizures, using excessive force against people already in handcuffs, and harassing and intimidating Section 8 housing voucher holders along with the county Housing Authority with the intent to oust residents and push them into moving out of the area.

The county agreed to 150 reform requirements that the department must meet to fulfill the terms of the settlement, as well as paying $700,000 to compensate the Section 8 housing voucher holders whose rights had been violated—a far cry from the $12.5 million the Justice Department originally demanded of the county in 2013.

Through Monday’s settlement, HACLA will be forced to cough up $1,975,000 to compensate residents. And HACLA and the county each have to pay a $25,000 civil penalty to the United States. The Housing Authority is required to reform the way it enforces the housing voucher program, and will not be allowed to perform surprise compliance checks on residents. HACLA will also have to stop giving residents’ information to the sheriff’s department and Lancaster and Palmdale.

U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California said the $2.6 million in damages and the court-enforceable reforms “will ensure [the racially discriminatory enforcement] does not recur.”


A package of four reform bills addressing over-drugging in California foster care system is working its way through state legislature.

The main bill, SB 253, would put judges in charge of deciding when and how much doctors can prescribe psychotropic medications to foster kids, and would require second medical opinions for prescriptions to kids under five.

Patrick Gardner, founder of Young Minds Advocacy Project, says this bill is not the answer to the problem. Gardner argues that SB 253 will only waste time and resources, instead of getting at the root of the problem—kids’ quality of mental health care. Here’s a clip:

The problem is in its premise: that the medications are the problem. In fact, quality of care is the real challenge. Foster children who are overmedicated are getting inadequate mental health care. In an improved system of care, foster children would be offered individualized, intensive therapies that allow them to live at home whenever possible; provided interventions before crises happen; treated with effective evidence-based practices; and receive coordinated care consistent with their expressed needs and treatment goals.

By focusing on improving quality of care instead of limiting access to medication, S.B. 253 could be much improved. Mandating second opinions doesn’t directly improve health care practice. In most cases, nothing happens, except added time and costs, because the two doctors’ opinions will be the same. In cases where there’s a difference of opinion, the decision maker has more treatment options.

But, as the decision making judge has no mental health training, what you will get is a somewhat random decision on which of two proposed courses of action is “better.” Taking a quality-based approach can improve both individual interventions and the quality of mental health care overall.

Providing expert consultation to the initial prescriber (rather than a second opinion from the judge) can directly improve the quality of the assessment, diagnosis and/or prescribing, especially in cases where the prescriber is a general practitioner and the consultant is a child or adolescent psychiatrist. Systemic consulting can also improve overall care as doctors become better trained through expert mentoring. It’s been done in other states and it works.


  • Lancaster and Palmdale find themselves on the wrong end of gentrification politics. L.a. politations and their bureaucrats have been executing a long term plan of clearing out welfare/public housing recipients from the old intercity areas and dumping them out in the desert areas via section 8 vouchers. The strategy is working great for L.A. , not so much for places like Lancaster and Palmdale. Lancaster and Palmdale tried to maintain some degree of control ,encouraging the more troublesome to leave by enforcing section 8 rules and laws, but they’re finding out the hard way who has the power and who holds the whip hand. It has been determined the best place for the intercity poor is miles away from downtown in the middle of the desert (for their own good of course).

  • Oh yippie, the neighbors will be so glad to hear that the section 8 folks next door can violate with impunity. I can hear the call now, “911 whats your emergency?” “My section 8 neighbors have 14 people living in one house, they are up all night with stereo blasting, and there is a lot of people going a coming and handing money to the guy in the window for what appears to be bags of white powder, can you help me?” “Sorry maam, you said Section 8…we are not allowed to go there, it may violate their rights.”

  • True cops with ingenuity will continue to fight crime without violating anyone’s right. It takes genuine police work to arrest more than a walking warrant. I do get your point, however it should not deter you in handling your calls.

  • @Been There_Done That: I would like to agree with you, except I’m having a slight problem. “Handling your calls,” absolutely, and with the ingenuity of which you speak, you hit the nail on the head.

    However, we have always worked, accepting the fact this is a dangerous job and you can not control fate, knowing today could very well be your last day alive. Most of us train hard and ready ourselves for the worst case scenario, so that we will survive.

    So, my statement/question is: shouldn’t we just answer our calls and not bother to take people to jail, unless absolutely necessary (ie. DV, 245’s, 211’s etc). What is the point of the “Obs” arrest anymore! It puts you at risk, nobody cares and it doesn’t help further your career! Example: most of the guys, of which I’m aware, who are on the Department’s “Performance Review” status, aren’t lazy slugs who don’t answer their calls. They are the guys who were still out there doing “proactive” police work. And, because they were actually working, people complain. Not rocket science, but apparently a little perplexing for some Execs!

    I know this sounds like quitting, but isn’t this actually part of the “training.” We learn to adapt for survival. Believe me this is hard for me to say, as well as advocate!

    What we should be doing is spending the time, in between calls, seeking out the good people in the community and make them understand the repercussions of us not bothering with the “Obs arrest,” because of the risk factors. And, maybe we will empower them to speak out for us and regain the respect we deserve. Just my two cents!

  • Buggin out:.Just do your job.

    Academy 101= Don’t concern yourself with anything beyond your control.

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