LA County Supes Vote to Curb Pepper Spray in Juvenile Halls (Again) After Report Shows 'Disheartening and Egregious' Use
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to direct the Probation Department to come up with a plan to phase out pepper spray in certain housing units in Central Juvenile Hall.
Supervisors voted nearly four years ago to ban pepper spray in the county’s juvenile halls — but that didn’t happen. In fact, the situation got worse.
In August, I reported that probation officers sprayed detained youths at the county’s two juvenile halls at least 409 times between June 2021 and June 2022. That’s an average of a bit more than once a day.
We’re not in the mood to have any more excuses.
A report published last month from the L.A. County Probation Oversight Commission found that between June 1 and Sept. 30, youth were sprayed 232 times — almost twice the average rate of the previous year.
“The findings were incredibly disheartening and egregious as there was a documented increase in the substantial use of OC spray,” Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath wrote in Tuesday’s motion.
The probation department has blamed a lack of training and alternatives to spray as well as staffing problems as one of the reasons for the increase.
“We’re not in the mood to have any more excuses,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.
The probation department has 45 days to create and execute a plan to phase out pepper spray “at the housing units that incarcerate youth with developmental disabilities and girls and gender expansive youth” at Central Juvenile Hall.
Supervisors also voted to request that the L.A. County inspector general and the Probation Oversight Commission oversee the process and provide updates on the process every 14 days until it is completed.
The inspector general’s office will also track and collect data on staff who deploy pepper spray multiple times.