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L.A. County Urged To Close Youth Detention Units; Boy, 18, Dies

A California oversight agency issued a report Tuesday calling for Los Angeles County’s juvenile halls to be shuttered amid a staffing crisis and reports of increased violence and drug use. An 18-year-old was found dead of an apparent overdose in one of the deteriorating facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports. The young man was found unresponsive in his room at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar. Staff used Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose, but he could not be revived and was pronounced dead. The victim lived in the Secure Youth Treatment Facility, where those accused of serious and violent crimes are housed. He was convicted of attempted murder and transferred to the facility just six weeks ago.


Hours after word of the death surfaced, the California Board of State and Community Corrections issued a staff report recommending that the juvenile halls be shuttered within 60 days of its next meeting, in late May.

The report said that the Probation Department continues failing to staff the halls adequately while holding youth in isolation for far longer than allowed under state guidelines. The department has failed to meet state requirements related to use of force and performing safety checks on youths in isolation. High-ranking officials were either unaware of a Probation Department corrective action plan or had failed to implement significant portions of it, the report said. Guillermo Viera Rosa, the Probation Department’s newly appointed chief strategist for juvenile operations, said he agrees with the plan to close the juvenile halls. “That’s why the Board of Supervisors approved our plan last week to move this population of youth to the Los Padrinos facility, which will be renovated to meet the state standards,” he said.

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