It’s a basic, unsaid agreement that everyone wants children to be safe. This includes in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, and, yes, our juvenile detention facilities. When a minor is placed into a government facility, we expect them to have certain standards such as a clean environment, proper staffing, a drug-free experience, and a facility that follows correct protocols. In light of recent events, such conditions seem to be missing from a number of juvenile facilities in Los Angeles County. This sort of negligence can lead not only to the lack of safety of our young people, but fatalities as well.
On May 9 of this year, a teenager detained in Los Angeles County juvenile hall died of an apparent overdose. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, unnamed sources directly knew about the situation. Nursing staff attended to the minor immediately, family was notified of the death, and crisis counseling for the youth and staff within the facility was dispatched, said the article.
The death of the minor, who was no older than 18, came at a time when state prosecutors were already questioning conditions about the facility itself, says Epoch Times. Conditions, they claimed, were “appalling.” In addition to environmental conditions, abusive staff has been called into question. Over 300 claims by minors have been filed against county probation and detention officers for sexual assault and harassment made during detainment. Claims date back to the 1970s.
Drug Use in Juvenile Facilities: A Major Problem
Drug use and distribution within juvenile facilities has become a major problem, says Corrections1. Because of such “lax security,” contraband has been delivered via fake DoorDash employees, thrown over fences, and dropped by drones, says the article. At two Los Angeles County juvenile facilities, drug use caused two detainees to overdose. One of the minors was hospitalized twice in one day before staff searched the unit. Both teens were administered Narcan, an opiate overdose reversal drug. The attorney representing one of the minors who overdosed said his client had no previous drug problems before entering the juvenile correctional facility, said LA Times.
Drug searches like these are far and few between, said the article, including not searching visitors to the facility. “Even when an alert was sounded as staff or other persons walked through the metal detector, no further actions were taken by the security personnel to screen the individuals with a wand or to conduct a search,” said the LA Probation Department.
For the past few months, juvenile facilities in the county have been assessed as “illegal and unsafe” by Attorney General Rob Bonta. Mandatory improvements include upgrades to most facilities, relocation of most detainees, raising staffing levels, and ensuring detained youth are taken to school and medical appointments.
For further drug and contraband restriction, suggestions range from email surveillance to advanced mail screening technology, says Correction1. Facilities must think outside the box for certain improvements. Knowing the inmate population in each facility is paramount to surveillance, says the article. Are they long-term or transient with frequent court dates and access to the outside world? Systematic TSA security checkpoints are also suggested, with body scanners, x-ray, and metal detectors. Like an airport, every person and item is checked before passing through to another section of the building.
Keeping our minors safe during their time of detainment should not be a second thought. They are there to make amends and earn their freedom back, not fight a war against drugs, sexual harassment, basic human needs, or their lives.
Is Your Loved One in Jail in Danger?
If you believe your loved one in prison or a juvenile detainment center is not getting the adequate medical care they are entitled to, or are not being monitored as they should be, please reach out to Civil Rights Attorneys at The Sehat Law Firm. Negligence by management to secure facilities which allowed the death to occur and potentially putting other juveniles at risk is never acceptable. You have recourse to fight back, and we are here to help.