May 15, 2023
LA County Probation Names Juvenile Justice Experts to Present Plan Timeline to BSCC on May 23
LOS ANGELES— The Los Angeles County Probation Department has named a special team of experts to present its plan to state regulators for closing down Central and Barry J. Nidorf Halls as conventional juvenile facilities and consolidating operations at a renovated Los Padrinos campus.
The team will present the County’s plan to the Board of State and Community Corrections on May 23 to speak on behalf of Interim Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa, who is barred from contacting the BSCC directly because he was a member of the Board until April when he took the County position.
The presentation team includes Margarita E. Perez, Nancy M. Campbell, and Michael L. Minor — all experts with decades of experience working with or in juvenile and adult probation agencies, including those under court orders and regulatory scrutiny.
“I couldn’t think of a more distinguished group to represent the County at this critical point in our relationship with the BSCC,” said Viera Rosa. “I have worked with Margarita, Michael, and Nancy, and greatly admire their work.”
The new plan, which was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on May 2, abandons efforts to keep Central and Nidorf halls open for the housing of pre-disposition youth. Instead, the County will transfer those youth to the Los Padrinos campus, which will be renovated and reopened in compliance with state standards.
The plan would consolidate staffing at Los Padrinos and boost those numbers with rolling academy classes of new probation recruits. It would also create several new employee classifications so Probation can use reserve peace officers on as-needed basis and move non-sworn County personnel over to perform non-deputized tasks.
Among the qualifications Mr. Viera Rosa cited of presentation team members:
- Campbell, a Tacoma, WA-based management consultant, has served as Special Master in several state and federal class-action lawsuits, including Farrell v. the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. The case resulted in a consent decree and a slate of reforms that have been described as “one of the most far-reaching remedial plans in American juvenile justice history.”
- Minor, a Sacramento-based consultant, was the former Director of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice from 2012 to 2016. As Director, Minor worked with Campbell to implement reforms under the Ferrell consent decree, including introducing an Integrated Behavior Treatment Model. This evidence-based approach promotes pro-social skills through consistent reinforcement by others.
- Perez, who works for an Alameda County Supervisor on adult restorative justice reform, was LA County Probation Assistant Chief Probation Officer from 2012 to 2016, during which she oversaw both adult and juvenile field operations. She also served as the acting Director of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s Division of Adult Parole Operations, responsible for supervising 75,000 formerly incarcerated individuals, prior to transferring to the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Perez said she was “very optimistic that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken the position of an ‘all hands-on board’ approach to resolving this issue —not as a quick fix, but as a long-term strategy to meet the needs of youth in our care and through improvements to the system to protect our youth and staff.”
Minor added that the Board’s approval of the juvenile operations plan underscores its commitment to transformational change. He pointed out the plan includes the long-term adoption of a treatment model that would require individual treatment plans for every youth, close collaboration with families, and engaging Probation staff to offer youth constant encouragement.
“I want to emphasize the indispensable role that staff will play in nurturing our youth,” said Minor. “This role underscores the critical need to equip staff with essential tools, comprehensive training, and well-deserved recognition. This will enable them to wholeheartedly fulfill their unwavering commitment to this vital work.”
Viera Rosa said the team’s main task on May 23 will be to explain the plan to the BSCC Board members and enlist its help as “partners” to come up with a realistic timeline for shifting operations from Central and BJN to Los Padrinos to minimize disruption to the youth and their families.
Viera Rosa added that while the BSCC staff has recommended closing down Central and Nidorf within 60 days of the Board’s hearing, that isn’t a reasonable amount of time for the County to adequately prepare Los Padrinos and transfer the youth at a measured pace.
“This would impose an undue hardship on youth and their families, not to mention a logistical nightmare for us,” said Viera Rosa. “We can have meaningful change without the chaos if the BSCC Board will give us a reasonable deadline extension.
“We’re in full agreement with BSCC that juvenile operations needs a complete reset,” said Viera Rosa. “We’re working as hard as we can. We just need the time to do this right, and we’re hoping to work with the BSCC on a smooth transition of and for our youth.”