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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Justice Department Reaches Agreement to Extend Critical Reforms at the Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Camps

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the county of Los Angeles to extend critical reforms at the Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Camps that were set to expire later this month. The agreement amends a memorandum of agreement (MOA) entered into in 2008 to resolve the department’s investigation into conditions of confinement at the juvenile camps.


While the county was unable to achieve the goals set forth in the initial 2008 agreement, substantial reforms have occurred. The amended MOA builds on these improvements. The department and the county agree that additional time and specific measures are necessary to ensure that youth receive adequate rehabilitation and related services in the camps and in the community. As part of the amended MOA, the county agrees to continue implementing corrective measures related to rehabilitation, behavior management, substance abuse treatment, staffing and quality assurance to ensure that the reforms are sustainable and result in improved outcomes for youth. The remaining requirements of the MOA will terminate based on reports from a team of independent monitors that the county has substantially complied with those requirements.


The county also agreed to promote the rehabilitation of youth by expanding youth access to community-based alternatives to incarceration, consistent with public safety and the best interests of the youth. These innovative measures, designed to prevent unnecessary detention of youth, are among the most expansive the department has obtained in a juvenile justice system as part of its enforcement of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The measures are intended to provide qualifying youth with greater opportunities to receive rehabilitation and related services near their home communities where they can benefit from family and community supports. The measures include steps to:

  • Divert youth from detention, as appropriate, including by collaborating with law enforcement agencies and judges to increase awareness of alternatives to incarceration;
  • Expand access to community-based placements by providing necessary security to youth who could benefit from rehabilitation services in the community; opening two additional day reporting centers; contracting with alternative housing providers; and improving re-entry and transition services;
  • Refer youth to community-based services and programs, as appropriate; and
  • Establish a long-term partnership with an outside research entity to study recidivism and youth outcomes.

“We commend the county for its continued cooperation in reforming the juvenile camps and for its commitment to ensuring that the constitutional rights of youth are protected,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The amendment will result in better outcomes for youth and will provide them with more opportunities to benefit from rehabilitation services closer to home.”


“The amendment to the MOA resulting from today’s agreement will lead to more integrated treatment options for youth in custody,” said André Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “County youth will continue to receive much needed rehabilitation services in the camps, while also having greater access to community-based care that promotes their well-being and is delivered in a manner that is consistent with public safety. Continuing to provide these rehabilitative options should help us all by decreasing recidivism.”


In October 2008, the department and county entered into the MOA to resolve the department’s findings of unlawful conditions at the juvenile camps following a comprehensive investigation under CRIPA and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The original MOA called for broad reforms in areas related to protection from harm, suicide prevention, mental health care, and quality assurance. The county is expected to achieve full compliance with all terms of the amended MOA by Dec. 31, 2014. The Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Central California are enforcing the MOA.

For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt