Education Beat Podcast — How a school lunch lady sparked better trauma response for schools — Listen Now!

News Update

L.A. County juvenile halls “unsuitable” & ordered to shut down

Two juvenile halls in Los Angeles County were found to be “unsuitable for housing youth” after a vote Tuesday of California’s Board of State and Community Corrections.

Staff has 60 days from May 24 to move youth currently housed at the Barry J. Nidorf facility in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights. According to reporting by the L.A. Times, the county Probation Department plans to reopen Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, which shuttered in 2019, to house all of the impacted youth.

The vote was unprecedented but not entirely unexpected.

“We have stayed in this process much longer than I’m comfortable with,” board Chair Linda Penner wrote in a news release. “I’m concerned with the youth who are there right now, and we really must address that. The time has come to take this extraordinary move.”

Since 2021, the Board of State and Community Corrections has found Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall, two out of three juvenile halls in the county, “unsuitable for the confinement of minors,” with problems ranging from insufficient staffing to youth being confined for too long in their rooms to lack of proper training on the use-of-force policy.

Most recently, the state board received a corrective plan from L.A. County on March 14. The plan, however, “does not provide enough detail about the specific plans that will be relied upon to correct the items of noncompliance and does not provide a reasonable timeframe for resolution,” according to a letter from the board to the L.A. County Probation Department’s interim chief, Karen Fletcher. Fletcher became interim chief last month after the previous department chief, Adolfo Gonzales, was fired.

In late April, the board conducted inspections and found “that no significant items of noncompliance had been corrected,” according to the news release. The findings from that inspection were followed by a unanimous vote to shut down the two juvenile halls.