Jail riots spread to L.A. County’s juvenile facilities

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Nearly 50 juveniles were involved in Saturday’s riot at Camp McNair, which is part of the Challenger Memorial Youth Center complex and houses violent juvenile offenders in an open dorm setting. One male juvenile was hospitalized and several probation officers received minor injuries, Maynard said. After the incident, 32 juveniles were put in lockdown in a special housing unit. Charlene Vartanian, acting bureau chief for Residential Treatment Services Bureau, said the department has asked the Board of Supervisors for additional staff to help quell the violence and returned 15 youths involved in the riot to court for violating their probation. “We are using the refiling strategy to deter violence in the institutional setting,” Vartanian said. “It could lengthen their camp stay, or, depending on the seriousness, they could be sent to the California Youth Authority.” Maynard said racial violence is a growing problem in county probation halls and camps, and the department is ill-equipped to handle major disturbances. “Los Angeles County probation halls and camps are severely understaffed, and officers have been forced to curtail rehabilitative programs for the juveniles,” Maynard said. The halls are operating under a federal consent decree for inadequate staffing, programs and services. The union has filed two lawsuits against the county for failing to meet California Board of Corrections minimum-staffing requirements in the halls and camps. Recently, the county has set aside nearly $18 million for the department to hire 270 more probation officers to staff the halls, but Miller said it will probably take until the end of the year to hire those people and the camps need about 200 more probation officers, too. “The camps are more screwed up than the halls,” Miller said. The riot at Camp McNair is the second in two weeks. The first took place at Central Juvenile Hall and was also racially motivated, officials said. Late last year, a racially motivated riot took place at Camp Rockey in San Dimas. In recent years, the understaffed halls and camps have been plagued by rising violence, especially at the Sylmar Juvenile Hall. Violent incidents increased 12 percent from 2,094 in 2003 to 2,352 in 2004 and were expected to hit 2,700 in 2005. Last year’s final figures were not available Wednesday. Meanwhile, incidents of use of force by probation officers on juveniles rose from 1,535 in 2003 to 1,727 in 2004 and then fell to 1,672 last year. During that time, the use of various restraints by probation officers increased from none to 75. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed the Probation Department to investigate the riot at Camp McNair. The Commission on Human Relations also was asked to address the circumstances of a racial disturbance Monday at Golden Valley High School in the Santa Clarita Valley in which nine youths were arrested. “To prevent violence and ensure safety for young probationers and school children, we must ensure our schools, camps and halls are safe and free of racially motivated violence and disturbances,” Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said. Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A month of rioting that has left two dead and hundreds injured in the Los Angeles County jail system has spread to the county’s juvenile halls and probation camps, officials said Wednesday. In recent months, three racially motivated riots have occurred at juvenile centers, including Saturday at Camp McNair in Lancaster, said County Probation Officers Union spokeswoman Barbara Maynard. Union officials believe the escalating violence is being directed by the same gangs that have been behind the violence in the county’s adult jails and state prisons. “The prison groups like the Mexican Mafia can call the shots all the way down to the juvenile halls and camps just like they do in the jails,” union President Ralph Miller said. “The power of these prison gangs has only increased, and it’s going to get a lot worse.” last_img read more