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County Looks to Expand Programs at Juvey Halls, Camps

Published on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 | 7:08 pm

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized the Department of Youth Development to use $2 million in grants to expand programs for youth in its juvenile halls and camps, which have faced criticism for a shortage of activities for detainees.

The agency was directed to use the state funds to partner with organizations that have experience working in juvenile halls and camps and creating programs for youth to help them learn professional and inter-personal skills.

“Our office has received hundreds of comments from youth, parents, advocated and other constituents pertaining the lack of consistency of programming at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall,” Supervisor Holly Mitchell said.

She noted in her motion that efforts have been made to provide programs, such as a Drum Corps program at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall that teaches youth how to play instruments, read music and connect with musical programming. A Swan Within ballet program, meanwhile, engages youth in weight training, outdoor strength conditioning exercises, ballet exercise and holistic wellness practices, according to the motion.

In February, the California Board of State and Community Corrections declared Los Padrinos and the Nidorf facilities unsuitable to house youths. The state board cited violations ranging from poor staffing levels to inadequate training, education programs, safety plans and disciplinary procedures.

The board reversed that finding in April, determining that sufficient improvements had been made to address the various violations. Had the board not changed its mind, the county would have been forced to close the facilities and relocate the youth detainees.

Mitchell’s motion cited BSCC’s findings on the lack of available or consistent programming for youth in both facilities. The BSCC also found that rehabilitative programming at Los Padrinos was not provided in some units at all.

“While recent developments have raised the level of urgency, the motion has been in the works for a couple of months,” Mitchell said. “It took a Herculean effort to come in compliance with the BSCC’s regulations and this included meeting the requirement of providing a minimum amount of consistent programming in our juveline halls.”

Mitchell said the Youth Development agency “has identified several organizations who can ramp up services quickly upon contract executions,” and they have prior experience in providing such programs. She said some of the programs include life coaching and a financial literacy program at LPJH, a pre- apprenticeship machinist program and vocational training.

Mitchell asked for a report back within 180 days on the progress of the programs.

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