Video of gladiator fight in Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall is shown in court, as same troubled facility is declared “suitable” to house LA’s youth

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall's updated entrance, photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Probation
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Thursday, April 11, was not a cheering day for those who care about the young people in the care of Los Angeles County Probation

On Thursday morning during a hearing in a Sylmar juvenile courtroom, attorneys played a video for those present showing a youth as he was physically attacked by one kid after another, in a dayroom at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

The video has been floating around for a while. But this is reportedly the first time it has been seen in a semi-public venue.

The multiple beat-downs shown in the video appeared to be officiated by a group of probation staff members, who motioned to first one youth, then another to commence slugging the lone boy, who tried to fight back. 

Each beat-down lasted for what appeared to be a prescribed number of seconds.  When that time was up, each youthful attacker was told to stop, at which time the attacker ceased and desisted, then walked over to grab a prepared meal from a supply of meals, and sat down.

Rinse and repeat until all the youthful attackers had taken their turn.


Also on Thursday, April 11, in Sacramento, CA, the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) spent multiple hours trying to decide if they officially should find LP, as Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall is known for short, to be suitable for youth habitation.

BSCC Meeting, 4/11/2024, via WLA

As readers may remember, two months ago, on February 15, after many hours of discussion, plus a string of comments from youth advocates, probation staff, and others, the BSCC found both Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, to be “unsuitable” for youth and young adults to be in residence.

At around 4 p.m. that same day, two months ago, as if to illustrate the perilous nature of the conditions addressed by the vote—at Barry J, as the Sylmar facility is known, two kids overdosed on fentanyl, which caused calls to go out to other staff members to rush to the facility on an emergent basis.

According to sources familiar with the situation, the rest of the young people in Unit Y, where the overdoses took place, were spooked by the life-threatening condition of their two unit mates, in part because the new overdoses brought back memories of the fatal overdose of 18-year-old Bryan Diaz last spring.

Diaz had also been a resident of Unit Y, and was reportedly a kid who many of the others valued as a friend.

“I’m just not down for this,” said one kid.

No longer unsuitable?

Today, however, after several hours of discussion that no one seemed to enjoy, plus an official presentation featuring charts and reports, it was clear that the BSCC board was going to find the two facilities suitable.  In the end, there were three no votes and one abstention, but that wasn’t enough to tip the scales.

It wasn’t that anyone on the BSCC board seemed to think the suitable vote was an ideal solution.  It just signified that conditions in the two halls appeared to have gotten the smallest bit better than they were two months ago, when it came to reaching the extremely modest goals that state law demanded. 

For example, when asked, kids in Los Padrinos told inspectors that most of the time, when they needed to go to the restroom, and knocked on their cell doors to indicate their need, the staff usually responded in a timely fashion.

This had not been the case two months ago.


The BSCC inspectors, who, of late, had been spending long days, working with staff at the facilities on a weekly basis, explained that they would continue to push for additional improvements.

We don’t want young people to be in peril, said BSCC chair, Linda Penner, after the presentation.

Matters were not helped by the fact that Scott Budnick, the founder of the Anti-recidivism Coalition, and Angeles Zaragoza from the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office, felt they needed to recuse themselves from the vote, although they were the two board members who knew the two youth halls the best.

“There are zero vocational programs” at Barry J Nidorf, said Budnick.  “In three years they haven’t started one.”

Zaragoza described the conditions in the facilities that kept her awake at night.

Her descriptions reflected concerns that other juvenile attorneys have expressed to WLA in recent weeks, such as their repeated inability to meet with their young clients, if those clients are housed in one of the two youth halls. The excuse the attorneys are reportedly given, is that the facility is too short on staff to facilitate an attorney/client conversation.

Meanwhile, several people who spoke at the meeting brought up the gladiator fight/beat-down video, which has resulted in the suspension of eight department members.

“Are our kids safe there?” asked board member Norma Cumpian, regarding Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall where, as of late last month, approximately 285 youth were in residence, including seven 13-year-olds and a dozen 12-year-olds.

“The answer is a clear no,” Cumpian said, answering her own question.


  • BSCC won’t close the halls down because it’s not about safety it’s about money. Probation department will continue to be as dysfunctional as they are now without any consequences. It’s a revolving door and truly no one cares, it’s simply to put on a show for the public and the stakeholders. Probation is not just funded by la county, they have private stakeholders who invest so why would they change anything knowing that may stop their money

  • The department gets paid either way. Most of the money goes to staff and layoffs are not an option for this Board. If you want to understand the Board, the question to ask is what they could do that would avoid embarrassment. If you want to understand the Chief, the question to ask is what he can do to avoid embarrassing the Board. I have to say, playing chicken with the BSCC like this was a BOLD move and it barely paid off. But Viera Rosa won this round in his fight against the inevitable. He did well co-opting the ARC with promises of a bigger credible messenger contract or it would have gone the other way. And the chief is lucky it happened at the same time the video leaked so it’s a mixed news story. But we’ll see if it accomplished anything but kicking the can down the road a little farther. I’m just waiting for a real plan to replace the juvenile division with something better. Gonzalez was hired based on his experience spinning the San Diego youth division into something separate. Youth Justice Reimagined is an even better plan. It’s too bad the Board is too cowardly to do any of it.

  • The probation officers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they used force to stop the fighting they would accused of harming chilfren so they stand by watch the fights.

  • Saw the video, doesn’t surprise me. The Senior never worked a real building in his life. He was walking kids to and from Boys Receiving. It was a matter of time this happened. He wasnt known to be prejudice. The union continues to back and protect people like him, staff who have inappropriate relationship with kids while the real line staff get fired for “use of force”. when you work a building, general pop day in and day out you will accumulate alot of use of force incidents. this was just stupid

    my question is, why is the board of supervisors allowing probation to continue to pick and choose how to put staff in places of need. why is it on any given day you will have a building ran by 3-4 women and moment control be staffed by all men.

    why allow the cert team that only responds, never prevents, be allowed to never run board in a building. these cert team staff like the one guy who couldn’t cut it, leaves to san bernardino and comes back as a field po. or the one whose husband kissed ass to former super intentdent aceves and worked with the under 15 kids, or the one guy who couldn’t cut it in camp, demotes and promotes back to a female camp and was best friends with the fool that got caught sleeping with female minors. this is the CERT Team?

    these fools have been allowed to coast their entire careers because they can’t hang and the union backs them up. These guys couldn’t run a board when they were dso’s but now are gun carrying officers. put these fools back in the building, if they can do adult supervision they can do minor supervision in a controlled setting.

    don’t get me started on the supervisors and directors. fall off a ladder, work headquarters and now director. can’t run a board, work movement control and promote to program analyst and now director? oh please. sleep with all the new female recruits and given the girl units as your building so you can sleep with more female staff as a supervisor. pls lol

    the union knows this, the department knows this. this all comes back to the union. good line staff who had good group control, knew about gangs, had tremendous people skills and were not afraid have either been discharged, transferred to other departments or retired because they dealt with these problems day in and day out with a much damn larger population total. back in the day there was 80-90 kids per unit with 4 staff. these are the guys that should be training, supervising and be advising new staff not the ones that were sheltered because their skills were better suited elsewhere smh!!!

  • Oooh “April 12 @ 3:19” You big mad huh?…. Drop them names…… who are you talking about? You wit it….

  • The article raises a lot of questions: was this an isolated event or was it an ongoing practice for these particular Officers. I have not met with either of these individuals but its interesting to me that this happened at Padrinos. When I was a young guy working Sylmar, I always remember the some kids would express that they preferred it at “LP” because “staff were the homies” over there, insinuating that they received some sort of special treatment from Officers of that grew up in their same neighborhoods or maybe were the same color. Years later in field supervision, juveniles on my caseload would often express the same preference. Based on the article from the Times, it is disgusting that an “Officer” would go out of their way to racially profile a kid and use “racism” as an excuse to have kids of another race take turns beating him up. I’m surprised that the Times actually printed this information seeing as how quick they are to always cover up the ethnicity of those who perpetrate street crimes, but I guess anything that makes Law Enforcement look bad is fair game.

    Regarding the comments by BOS and Unions working together:
    It appears that you have eaten a healthy dose of sour grapes, are you upset over the fact that you are a still working DSB perhaps? Because to me, your concerns read like the complaints of one of many disgruntled hall staff who want everyone else to be unhappy too. FYI: the CERT team Officers you are referring to are not juvenile hall staff, most of them are with the gang supervision unit or are “co-located” with other police agencies, you have obviously never been to the field or you would understand that what they do on a daily basis outside of the halls is not “coasting”. If you had made it father in your career, you would also realize that “running a board” is not the pinnacle of achievement in the Department, hopefully someone will give you a “good-gram” soon to make you feel more valued.

  • @ DPO Bread

    I’m not bitter but it sounds like you are. I’m not a disgruntled hall staff. Perhaps you might be one of these disgruntled people who get doctor notes and restrictions because you can’t run a board. I know what the CERT Team does in the field. The public doesn’t know what the CERT Team staff do in the halls. They hide out, only react to an incident. Again, put these staff on a board.

    The public has a right to know, DPO II field staff get doctor notes with restrictions to not work the halls. cry about being in a building, cry about how it’s unfair. DPO II staff don’t want to take the middle and be an acting senior. They don’t want to run board. don’t want to do anything. The public has a right to know that CERT team members working in LP hide out, while new hires and mainly women run a building. Why can’t you big and bad police riding officers work a building? Regardless of how better YOU THINK you are than all the hall staff, put your money where your mouth is and see for yourself.

    There are countless GSN and DSO that have put their time in and passed up because they didn’t sleep with a certain director, supervisor or senior have been kept down. Field DPO, Camp DPOs always look down on hall staff. We have countless staff that should have been fired years ago because they just plain out sick. Probation should be like the Sheriffs department, work halls, camp and then field. We already have the clicks, the favoritism and the nepotism. Might as well go all out.

    Mr Bread… You acting like this incident of a minor being set up by staff shows you haven’t been in a building long enough or ever. Guns and field reports don’t help you in a lock up facility. Come try and run your big mouth at Los Padrinos, a good board counselor always has a good voice and structure. ask your colleagues how far that gets them. better yet, go renew your Doctors note so you can remain on restrictions.

  • Wish they could just let these kids out, even the murderers, attempted murderers, rapist, molesters, and so much more so we can see real life Purge crime on a weekly basis.

  • @BOS/Unions:
    That’s an awful big chip you got on your shoulder there brother.

    Let me tell you exactly what the public has a right to know:
    Probationers in the field are not being supervised, dangerous offenders have not have home visits in years on probation. Probationers in the field are not reporting and are getting arrested for new crimes and nobody is violating them or putting warrants on them. Field probation supervisors are doing the work of 10+ DPOs each and are barely staying afloat. Area offices have become ghost towns. Court reports are not being completed on time if at all, frustrating and backlogging the court system. Probationers are now aware that they are not under any type of serious supervision and are out there committing violent crimes and getting away with it.

    Now do you think the public cares more about those things affecting public safety or more about your petty grudge about field officers who outrank you, not wanting to do YOUR JOB when you tell them to.

    You ask why hall staff are looked down on by the rest of the department? You and your entitled attitude are shining example why, you created this mess and have no shame about dragging us into it and expect us to clean it up for you. Sorry to break it to you but most people didn’t accept this job with the intention of being lifelong DSOs, I’m so proud that you can run a board, have a “good gram” on my behalf.

  • @Bread

    I never said i wasn’t in the field. You however are showing your true colors.The fact that you are entitled and look down at hard working GSN, DSO, Sr.DSO and SDSO says alot about you. You are no more important than anyone in the department. I go wherever i am assigned to. If i have to go back to the halls or camp it doesn’t matter.

    You are one of those fools that got a fake little doctors note. Do us all a favor and retire than to ever step foot in the halls again. People like you are a liability.

    This is why the department is in the shape it is in. You are too afraid to be exposed for the fraud DPO you are. You probably pick up your kids and claim to be out doing fieldwork. kissing ass to your director so they can send other dpos from your office to the halls instead of you

    Thanks for the good gram buddy, i hope you feel better while the rest of the field staff assigned to work the halls get their uniforms to continue to work the halls. This is why people are getting stuck longer than their 60 days of reporting to the halls. You wouldn’t know cause you tough behind the desk. There’s no arguing with people like you. Go on and get help. I heard you can claim mental health issues. Lord knows you got them. you sir are dismissed

  • DPO Richard Bread

    “Let me tell you exactly exactly what the public has the right to know:”

    You are absolutely right: the public does have a right to know all of that, but it doesn’t and the question is–why?

    There is also no doubt in my mind that the scenarios you described are true & need to be rectified.

    But will that happen?



    Because the public doesn’t know.

  • DPO Bread,

    Well said. Thanks to social trends and well intentioned but ill informed people (including some members of mgmt), staff can no longer do their jobs under today’s climate. If staff cannot enforce the rules of the probation department, and the orders of the court and if the youth do not view them as in control and do not have any fear of the consequences for violence and other crimes, it doesn’t matter who you send in there. It’s chaos. As a result, everyone is in danger.

    The public also needs to know that the juvenile halls have been a mess for well over a decade.
    Celeste, please ask the department to share the attrition records of each class of DSO staff that have been hired. Some years ago, one entire class quit within the first year; largely because staff do not feel safe and were being threatened by juveniles on one hand and with discipline for using force by the Dept on the other.

    Trust and believe that if the staff do not feel safe and cannot do their job, the kids don’t feel safe either – and the biggest gangsters will run the facility. There are absolutely some good, dedicated staff in the juvenile halls and bless them for coming to work and still trying in gladiator conditions.

    After removing Lt. Strong for a great gig at a desk where he counts things and can’t hurt people, let the LASD take over the juvenile halls. They command respect and many of these youth will straighten up overnight.

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