LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Holly J. Mitchell and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, that builds on the County’s commitment to Care First, Jails Last by exploring permanent facilities that are most effective for the healing and rehabilitation of youth in the County’s custody as an immediate replacement for the incarceration of youth at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall. The motion directs the Chief Probation Officer to explore the use of Campus Kilpatrick, Camp Scott, and Dorothy Kirby Center as Secure Youth Treatment Facilities to further facilitate the County’s shift from a punitive to a restorative model for justice system-involved youth.
“After almost one year of delays, the County has reaffirmed its commitment to shifting the paradigm of youth justice away from a failed punitive approach and towards a developmentally appropriate, rehabilitative model,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “This decision allows the County and its community partners to finally move forward with the transformational work that’s needed to enhance the well-being of our young people and make communities safer.”
“Today’s decision takes another major step in working to help our young offenders to rehabilitate and thrive by requiring them to be placed in settings that are conducive to therapeutic and positive programs,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “The approach of this motion was guided by contemporary brain science, best practices in juvenile justice, and an expert advisory board, and I feel confident that, of the County’s current locations, Campus Kilpatrick, and Camps Scott and Kirby, are the locations where we can best support and help these young people, while, at the same time, protecting the long-term health and safety of all of LA’s communities.”
The County’s Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant Subcommittee, which is chaired by the Probation Department and tasked with creating a plan for meeting the developmental needs of young people in the County’s care submitted recommendations last year, recommending Camp Scott located in Santa Clarita for boys and Dorothy Kirby Center located in the City of Commerce for girls. In addition, this motion supports further exploration of the juvenile halls – often criticized for their carceral design which harms the development of youth – as a location for youth awaiting trial or transfer to a different facility only. This decision is based on scientific research and best practices that center the well-being and safety of youth and our communities and move away from treating kids as irredeemable. In addition, the Probation Oversight Commission voted to support the recommendation to explore Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu as another location for boys, which is the County’s newest juvenile facility, and its design and programs are informed by scientific research and best practices for ensuring youth avoid adult prison and positively change the trajectory of their lives.
“Some of these young people have waited for 8 months to see something other than the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall compound, a place we all know is unsuitable for the incarceration of anyone, let alone children. They’ve waited 8 months for an opportunity to heal, to grow and to reimagine their futures” said Milinda Kakani, Director of Youth Justice, Children’s Defense Fund- CA. “Supervisors Mitchell and Kuehl have repeatedly tried to do right by them and we are thrilled that they continue to support Care First, Jails Last not just in their motions, but in their actions, their power as Supervisors and as champions of Youth Justice Reimagined.”
In addition to shifting to a justice model that incorporates proven strategies for the development of youth, the motion also calls for the launch of the Credible Messengers pilot, which employs individuals with lived experience to mentor young people living in these facilities and help them navigate their experience with the justice system. The motion also directs existing juvenile hall for housing pre-disposition youth only and instructs the Probation Department to develop renovation plans for these facilities and report back with an environmental analysis. In addition, the Probation Oversight Commission is tasked with notifying the Board of any issues that could delay the process.
To read the full motion click here.