A new county report on Los Angeles County’s Central Juvenile Hall depicts it as a leaderless operation with “unacceptable” and “deplorable” conditions similar to a “Third World country prison.”
Some walls were covered in gang graffiti and filth that no one made an effort to wash away, and morale among staffers was at “dungeon lows from a workforce that claims to be victims,” according to the report cited by the Los Angeles Times.
And young detainees were sent into isolation for reasons outside of department policy — in one case for exchanging food with another detainee, the report alleges, The Times reported.
The report was written by Azael “Sal” Martinez, a volunteer probation department monitor who spent time incarcerated at juvenile hall as a teenager. He has since become a well-regarded Boyle Heights community leader. Supervisor Hilda Solis appointed him to the 15-member Probation Commission and asked him to report on the county’s aging network of three juvenile halls and 18 camps.
His assessment of Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights is the most withering by far, according to The Times. Interim Probation Chief Cal Remington said he is investigating the report’s findings and will have a public response on how to correct the problems soon.
“Clearly there are issues that I need to deal with,” he told The Times.
Tony Bell, the spokesman for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, told The Times that “we are investigating the serious allegations concerning staff accountability, condition of the facilities and the misuse of solitary confinement.”
Supervisors voted in November to begin studying how to replace the more than century-old facility with a modern infrastructure. In the meantime, the 200 young people housed at Central Juvenile Hall are sometimes placed in units with no running water except in staff bathrooms, Martinez wrote.
“What can’t be shaken is the stench emitting from the unit and rooms due to urinals broken, backed up, not cleaned and unsanitary,” Martinez wrote. “It appears that no one cares. Staff does not know who is in charge and are quick to push the blame elsewhere.”
—City News Service
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