A Realignment Plan That Focuses on Safety and Success
Please read this letter that was sent to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors from the L.A. County Coalition of Probation Unions sent on November 17, 2021.
To: Supervisor Hilda Solis, Chair
Supervisor Janice Hahn
Supervisor Holly Mitchell
Supervisor Kathryn Barger
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Re: Juvenile Justice Reform – DJJ Realignment Transition Plan
Dear Honorable Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors,
On behalf of AFSCME Locals 685 and 1967 representing the dedicated Probation rank and file and management staff, we continue to support your Board’s motions to implement care-first juvenile justice service reform in the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
In our letter of October 1, 2021, we communicated to your Board in hopes of eliminating misconceptions and offering next step recommendations. We are dedicated to reform; however, we believe strongly that the Board of Supervisors must first assure as a priority the safety, health, and security of the youth in our care, and protection of County employees (including those working in the Probation, Health, Mental Health, and Public Social Services departments as well as the L.A. County Officer of Education and occupational trade centers) and community and faith-based organizations that provide services in the juvenile institutions. Simply put, this extraordinary team of dedicated professionals cannot be effective in changing and rebuilding the lives of Los Angeles’ justice involved youth if the work and living environment in which youth are housed is not safe, secure, and stable.
Senate Bill 92 - Juvenile Justice (SB 92) reassigns high-risk youth and young adults – those found guilty of murder, attempted murder, arson, robbery, rape, kidnapping, torture, and/or carjacking (among other offenses) – from the California Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to “secure youth treatment facilities” operated by California counties. These high-risk youth and young adults require more significant rehabilitative and therapeutic services by the above-mentioned team, triaged per court order by experienced Probation staff, before they can safely re-enter the community.
The Probation Department employs experienced staff that have devoted their careers to rehabilitating and changing the lives of youth and adults for the better. Organizationally, probation staff work in executive, management, supervisory, and rank and file positions in juvenile residential treatment, detention services (BJN and Central Juvenile Hall), and field services. Our long years of experience, cross-training, judgment, and institutional knowledge should not be underestimated as a practical matter in the daily delivery of services to DJJ youth and young adults under challenging, high-risk circumstances in
a secure treatment institutional environment.
DJJ Realignment Transition Plan
As the County of Los Angeles plans for an effective transition of DJJ youth, it is critical that your Board carefully consider and implement the following recommendations in order to effectively maintain safety and security in the work environment:
DJJ high-risk youth population (aged 18-24) should continue to be housed at BJN or CJH for at least 2-6 months of their initial court-imposed probation term.
A permanent Los Angeles County Probation Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF) should be developed and dedicated for adjudicated DJJ level youth (707b) offenders.
It is not safe, even on a temporary limited basis, to consolidate or mix rehabilitative juvenile treatment services in an L.A. Model cottage-like setting for DJJ and non-DJJ youth.
Initially, DJJ youth should be separated for treatment and rehabilitative services from non-DJJ youth.
Therapeutic behavioral, care-first, evidence-based programs should be fully utilized after DJJ youth have satisfied initial terms and conditions of probation with the Detention Services Bureau (DSB) before transfer to the Residential Treatment Services Bureau (RTSB – and Probation camp residential services).
Small cottage living quarters – the L.A. model – at Campus Kilpatrick is unsuitable for DJJ youth to live in close proximity to each other in this non-secure setting.
Implement specialized high-risk training and certification requirements for staff working with DJJ youth.
Massive investment in infrastructure is needed to modernize and ensure juvenile facilities are safe and secure for protection of youth, staff, and service providers.
Employee wellness programs should be implemented for those working in high-risk assignments to address stress reduction, employee burnout, fatigue, and emotional well-being.
To better serve justice-involved youth, your Board should re-think the closure of juvenile halls and probation camps and invest in creating a transformative SYTF/Urban Camp to provide a state-of-the art juvenile rehabilitation service program.
Establish a Probation Training Academy to provide specialized training programs and services to improve service delivery to youth in the institutions.
Continue the collaboration model with community and faith-based organizations to provide services to youth.
We continue to support your Board’s vision for juvenile justice reform in the County of Los Angeles. The Coalition of Probation Unions has shared its safety concerns and suggestions for improving juvenile justice transition planning with the executive leadership in the Probation Department.
The Coalition of Probation Unions will utilize our resources to work jointly with the California State Legislature and Governor Newsom’s office to fund juvenile justice reform and delivery of rehabilitative services to DJJ and non-DJJ justice-involved youth in the County of Los Angeles.
Hans Liang, President LA County Deputy Probation Officers' Union, Local 685, AFSCME
Deborah Lares, President Professional Managers Association, Local 1967, AFSCME
cc: Justice Deputies, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Fesia Davenport, Chief Executive Officer, County of Los Angeles
Adolfo Gonzales, Chief Probation Officer, County of Los Angeles
California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Department of Finance
Senate Budget Committee
Senate Appropriations Committee
Senate Labor, Public Employment & Retirement Committee
Senate Public Safety Committee
Assembly Budget Committee
Assembly Appropriations Committee
Assembly Public Safety Committee
Assembly Labor & Employment Committee