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LA County Wants To Move From Locking Up Juveniles To A 'Care-First' Approach

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy stands in front of an empty cell at Men's Central Jail.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy stands in front of an empty cell at Men's Central Jail.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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In an effort to reconceive the county's juvenile justice system, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors committed to moving forward with a sweeping plan that aims to replace locked facilities with "a home-like setting."

The board unanimously passed a motion that calls for eventually ending the Probation Department's supervision of juveniles, passing control to a new Department of Youth Development.

Instead of holding young offenders in the county's two juvenile halls and six probation camps, the board agreed to explore how it could place them in "more of a home-like setting in communities, still with public safety in mind," as Supervisor Sheila Kuehl described the plan at a Monday press briefing.

The board committed to transitioning to the "care-first" model by 2025, "pending resolution of the necessary legal, budgetary and legislative issues."

While the number of juveniles in detention has dropped considerably over the years, L.A. County currently holds some 500 young people in its locked facilities.

The motion, co-authored by Kuehl and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, was based on an October report from the board-established Youth Justice Work Group. Its report recommends establishing Safe and Secure Healing Centers: "small, community-based therapeutic housing, with a range of security, to serve as alternatives to juvenile halls and camps."

We dive into the problems of the current system and what the new County’s Department of Youth Development would look like.  

Read more on LAist.


Tshaka Barrows, member of the chief executive team with the W. Haywood Burns Institute, a national nonprofit working to address structural racial and ethnic disparities; they led the process of creating the report from the board-established Youth Justice Work Group

Taylor Schooley, senior researcher and policy manager at the County's Office of Diversion and Reentry at Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; she led the Offices’ Department of Youth Development efforts; she tweets @taylorsamara

Hans Liang, president of the Los Angeles County Probation Officers Union, AFSCME Local 685, representing 3,400 probation Officers, detention services officers, group supervisors, transportation deputies, and workers, and pre-Trial Investigators; he is a deputy probation officer for the LA County Probation Department