Attorney General Bonta Brings Enforcement Action Against Los Angeles County Due to Illegal and Unsafe Conditions, Lack of Outdoor Exercise and Education at County’s Juvenile Halls

Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

The Los Angeles County Probation Department’s non-compliance with stipulated judgment—which includes failing to improve conditions and provide adequate staffing—endangers youth 

OAKLAND  California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced today that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion to enforce specific provisions of the 2021 stipulated judgment requiring Los Angeles County to remedy illegal and unsafe conditions of confinement at its two juvenile halls. DOJ seeks an order that the county complies with the judgment, submits periodic status reports on efforts towards compliance, and, should it fail to come into compliance within 120 days, face possible sanctions. The judgment mandates specific improvements at the county’s juvenile halls — including the maintenance of adequate staffing levels and the consistent and timely transport of youth to school. After over two years, the county has failed to voluntarily comply with the terms of the judgment. Due to the county’s non-compliance, staff routinely fail to transport youth to school or to critical medical appointments, and youth are frequently deprived of their right to time outdoors.    

“The conditions within the juvenile detention centers in Los Angeles County are appalling. Every child in our state is entitled to a safe, homelike environment,” said Attorney General Bonta. “For justice-involved youth in particular, it is imperative that our institutions give them every opportunity for rehabilitation, growth, and healing. We are responsible for protecting justice-involved youth and ensuring they receive educational, health, and supportive services necessary to stop the cycle of incarceration.”

Due in part to a staffing crisis plaguing the juvenile halls, the county has not just failed to make forward progress towards compliance with the judgment: It has actually regressed away from complying with the most basic and fundamental provisions that ensure youth and staff safety and well-being. Recently, public reports have revealed that illicit narcotic substances such as fentanyl have entered the halls, requiring the use of Narcan on two youths. And as a result of low staffing levels, youth have been forced to urinate and defecate in their cells overnight. So critical is the staffing situation at the juvenile halls that the county's probation department regularly requires staff to work more than 24-hour-long shifts and also has relied on temporarily reassigned field officers who are not trained to work with youth — all of which threatens youth safety and well-being.

The enforcement motion filed today seeks to enforce judgment provisions requiring Los Angeles County to:

  • Provide timely transport of youth from their units in the juvenile halls to school daily;
  • Deliver compensatory education services to youth who are entitled to those services;
  • Ensure that youth have access to daily outdoor recreation;
  • Timely and accurately document and review all use-of-force incidents, following procedures outlined in the judgment;
  • Install video cameras throughout Barry J. Nidorf juvenile hall; and
  • Implement a positive behavior management plan.

The Department of Justice hopes that Los Angeles County will act with urgency to come into full compliance before it becomes necessary for the court to take action.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting the rights of youth in California and across the country. The Attorney General encourages those with information regarding suspected practices violating state or federal law involving children to report them to the DOJ’s Bureau of Children’s Justice through the online complaint form located at

A copy of the motion to enforce the judgment can be found here.

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