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LA County Supes: Let’s Overhaul The Youth Justice System

Entrance sign for Juvenile Court near downtown L.A. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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In a year filled with calls for wide-ranging criminal justice reform, L.A. County is moving forward with a sweeping plan to reimagine its juvenile justice system.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to move towards ending the Probation Department’s supervision of juveniles in detention and transferring control to a new Department of Youth Development.

The board committed to moving forward with a plan that aims to eventually replace juvenile detention halls and camps with home-like housing and programs that provide a range of supportive services.

Part of the plan for the so-called Safe and Secure Healing Centers is that young people would remain close to their community, instead of being shipped to a facility in another city or county. Youth would then retain access to their local school and support system.

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The measure commits the county to moving to the “care-first” model by 2025.

L.A. currently holds roughly 500 young people in locked county facilities at two juvenile halls and six probation camps. It’s one of the largest juvenile justice systems in the country and youth of color are significantly overrepresented.

“Too often, the current system fails to meet our goals of helping to support and heal young people and try to put them on a path to a stable adulthood,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the motion with Mark Ridley-Thomas, said at a press briefing Monday.


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