By Jeremy Loudenback, The Chronicle of Social Change, June 12, 2019.
After a new report found that more than 90 percent of youth in the county’s juvenile halls had an open mental health case, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors pledged to improve mental health care to justice-involved youth in county.
That includes both more services for youth detained in the county’s juvenile detention facilities and more options to divert youth away from incarceration and into less restrictive therapeutic placements in a community-based setting.
“The county’s failure to meet the mental health needs of the youth in our juvenile justice halls and camps was well documented by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the board’s meeting on Tuesday. “Yet over 15 years later, the county continues to struggle with this issue, and we have not met our commitments. The failure to adequately address the mental health needs of justice-involved youth has had serious consequences for the county over the years.”
The motion introduced by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn calls for the county to come up with a plan to address issues raised by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) in response to a February report from the Office of the Inspector General that found disturbing use of pepper spray and a rise in excessive use-of-force incidents at the county’s juvenile halls.