Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors approved her motion directing pertinent County Departments to report back in 30 days with a plan for maintaining reductions of incarcerated youth at LA County juvenile halls and camps:

“In the past three months, the population of detained youth at County juvenile halls has decreased by nearly 200 youth to nearly 355 young people. Similarly, the population in juvenile camps has decreased by approximately 90 young adults to about 200 youth. We did this to protect the health and well-being of incarcerated youth, and the County employees who work at these custodial facilities. Without a vaccine, physical distancing is our most effective tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“Now, through my Board motion, we are ready to take the next step: to explore ways to maintain a decreased population of detained young adults at our juvenile halls and camps. With our communities of color disproportionately being represented in our juvenile justice system, this is a matter of racial and economic justice. The uprisings and voices we hear from our communities, and throughout the world, must challenge all of us to rethink how we perceive our impacted, marginalized communities. We are at a crossroad, where we must not allow anyone to wrongly assume that Black and brown youth with severe trauma pose a threat. Rather, we need to care for the well-being of these young people and invest in their success to make sure they have the opportunity to thrive. We must look at these young adults with compassion and care, understanding many have suffered too much trauma in their young lives.

“Allowing youth to stay safer at home could potentially reduce any negative emotional impacts this global pandemic may have on their current well-being and their long-term emotional adjustment. Separating them from their families will only heighten that sense of trauma. In addition, the Probation Department has adopted trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches to achieve these significant population reductions in the past several years, and as a result, it has reported a 30 percent decrease in our juvenile halls and a 70 percent decrease of young people in our camps.

“These reductions must prompt us to reflect and ask: Should these children have been detailed in the first place? And, how many more can we safely release?

“With the creation of the Youth Justice Workgroup, this Board has demonstrated its commitment to pursuing a ‘care first’ approach in our juvenile justice system. It is critical that we hear from youth whose voices are often not heard. We are tackling discrimination, institutional racism, and the implicit biases that have impacted our Black and brown youth in our juvenile justice system. Now is the time for all of us to step up and continue our strides toward equal justice and fairness for all.”

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov