September 11, 2022
Emilio Zapién | Youth Justice Coalition| firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Gomez | Young Women’s Freedoms Center | email@example.com
PRESS CONFERENCE: LOS ANGELES YOUTH DEMAND THE RELEASE OF TEENAGE GIRLS FROM ABUSIVE PROBATION LOCK UPS & URGE THE BOARD TO FULLY FUND THE DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Impacted girls, femmes and women of color demand L.A. County BOS protect girls from abuse in Probation facilities
LOS ANGELES, CA–– On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, Girls, femmes and women of color impacted by the juvenile and adult injustice systems hosted a community rally and press conference urging the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to take immediate action to protect teenage girls from sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional harm and trauma caused by Probation staff inside juvenile facilities. Organized by the Young Women’s Freedom Center (YWFC) and Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), youth organizers and advocates who identify as girls, women, and femmes shared testimonies and community-based solutions, urging for the immediate release of girls who are being traumatized inside county facilities and further impacted for years later.
BACKGROUND: According to this L.A. Times report, “at least 70 girls incarcerated in Los Angeles County juvenile camps and detention facilities were sexually assaulted by probation and detention officers, with the abuse spanning more than three decades, according to newly expanded litigation filed last month. In some instances, the same abusers found new victims as different girls entered the facilities over the years, according to the lawsuits. One deputy probation officer is accused by more than a dozen women of sexually abusing them when they were incarcerated minors. He is one of four officers accused of assaulting multiple girls.”
The Board of State and Community Corrections have found LA County juvenile halls in a constant cycle of unsuitability for the confinement of youth from issues with room confinement to falsifying logs on safety checks.
- Probation has a $1 billion budget, with $570 million for juvenile probation.
- Probation receives over $400 million in taxpayer dollars to run the camps and halls, where only about 400 youth are locked up on average. That’s over $1 million allocated per youth per year.
- Probation received $13 million more taxpayer dollars for training to phase out OC (pepper) spray, but nothing has changed.
- The Department of Youth Development has only been funded by $25 million, just a fraction of the $150 million necessary to jumpstart this department which is intended to be a long-term replacement for juvenile Probation.
- Immediate release of girls inside LA County juvenile halls with low LASD scores and implementation of the Youth Justice Advisory Group’s Gender responsive directive motion to decarcerate girls and gender expansive youth.
- Redirection of $410 million probation youth budget to Youth Justice Reimagined, housing, YES teams, youth centers, peacebuilders, credible messengers, and youth jobs.
- End use of OC spray. A motion calling for a phase out of OC spray in February of 2019 was passed, yet it’s still being used in August of 2022. Probation has once again demonstrated a complete lack of accountability to youth, communities, and county officials.
- No to lifting probations hiring freeze. The funds should be reinvested to the Department of Youth Development.
- Fully fund the L.A. County Department of Youth Development by $150 million.
- Urgent need in creating a plan to hire community based organizations, peacebuilders, and credible messengers to create mechanisms of support, safety, and appropriate interventions.
- POC – Probation Staffing model isn’t working
- Reports of assault sent to POC
- Access to report of complaints inside halls and camps over the last 5 years
For nearly 30 years, Young Women’s Freedom Center has provided support, mentorship, training, employment, and advocacy to young women and trans youth of all genders in California who have grown up in poverty, experienced the juvenile legal and foster care systems, have had to survive living and working on the streets, and who have experienced significant violence in their lives. Our mission is to build the power and leadership of directly impacted young people and inspire them to create positive change in their lives and communities.
For over 19 years, the Youth Justice Coalition is building an abolitionist youth,family and incarcerated people’s movement to end mass incarceration, deportation, and police terror.