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State Board finds Two LA County Juvenile Facilities Unsuitable  

Dozens of people testified in front of a state board about two Los Angeles County juvenile facilities, including Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.    

As the NBC4 I-Team has been reporting, the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) cleared the way last summer for the hall to re-open when it closed down two other locations.  

That move has had its challenges, including a lockdown only days after youth were transferred to Los Padrinos last July.

Since then, there have been multiple inspections — the most recent this month — that found some items were not meeting required standards like lack of staffing and recreational programs, safety checks, and room confinement, according to the BSCC. 

“We are unable to note reasons for youth being put in their rooms or for how long they are put in there, “ Alison Ganter, BSCC staff member. 

Members from the Los Angeles County Probation Department testified about changes they have made.   

“For use of force, our staff has received the required training, and any deployed staff that have not completed that training have been removed from the deployment, from being deployed to the units,” Kimberly Epps, LA County Probation Department, said. 

The Probation Department also requested a new six-month plan to make future changes at Los Padrinos.  

Ultimately, the BSCC found Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall unsuitable. 

The Barry J. Nidorf Secure Youth Treatment Facility in Sylmar, which closed as a juvenile hall, is now housing about 50 young people, more serious offenders. 

The board also found Nidorf unsuitable, citing certain items including low staffing and use of force. 

The BSCC said in the meeting that they will give the Probation Department 60 days notice to either make all the changes necessary to be in compliance or vacate the locations unless all violations are fixed. 

NBC4 reached out to the Probation Department and the County for a response to the Board’s decision late this afternoon.  

LA County said in a statement: 

“We understand and share the frustration expressed by the Board of State and Community Corrections about the longstanding issues at Barry J. Nidorf and Los Padrinos juvenile halls. Our highest priorities are ensuring the safety of our communities and the young people in our care. Unfortunately, today’s decision places the County in the position of continuing to conduct triage rather than to press forward with the reforms currently underway to achieve lasting change. We intend to use the 60-day regulatory window to take all necessary steps to meet the state’s requirements. We had hoped to have the BSCC’s agreement on a joint strike force that could provide clarity around goals and how outcomes are measured. Though that request was rejected, we will continue to push the Probation Department to use every tool at its disposal to avoid closure, which we believe will only make the current situation more challenging for our youth in detention.” 

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose district includes Los Padrinos, said in a statement: 

“It is unfortunate that the Probation Department made excuses at today’s BSCC meeting instead of owning up to the unacceptable conditions at two of our probation facilities. The BSCC wants to see real change and I expect the same. Multiple probation chiefs have been unable to fix the problems facing the department. I am concerned about the future of the Probation Department and whether they are capable of the reform that we all know needs to happen.” 

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis also responded with a statement: 

“Today’s BSCC ruling finding both Barry J. Nidorf and Los Padrinos juvenile halls out of compliance and unsuitable for incarcerated youth means that we don’t need to just do better, but immediate actions need to take place.  The cycle of Probation juvenile facilities continuing to be in and out of compliance and being found unsuitable needs to end. I recognize that this is a long and deep-seated issue directly connected to staff, who have long-held leadership positions, who have abused their authority, turned a blind eye, and who created a culture that has enabled rank-and-file staff to operate with impunity, no accountability, and a complete disregard for regulations, policies, and standards.  In fact, since October of 2023, under the new leadership of Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa, over 500 disciplinary actions were taken for varying reasons, against staff, including no-shows and call-outs.  Additionally, union representatives need to steer away from defending and supporting staff who are engaging in abuse, negligence, and dereliction of duty to working together with the new Probation leadership and the Board of Supervisors if we are going to implement a plan toward progress and compliance.” 

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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