Focus of Study

In September 1998, the Grand Jury made a site visit and inspection tour of Central Juvenile Hall. We were both surprised and dismayed to see the apparent substandard condition of this facility. It appeared to be in much worse condition than any of the adult facilities we had seen before, or since. We wondered what factors had led the County of Los Angeles, which has the largest juvenile detention program in the nation, to house its juvenile offenders in such an obviously deteriorated facility. In an effort to better understand these circumstances, in December, 1998, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury undertook to perform a management audit of two of the three juvenile halls operated by the County Probation Department: Central Juvenile Hall and Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. The third and newest facility, located in Sylmar, was not included in this study.

In general, we assessed the overall physical condition of the two juvenile halls to determine whether the County has allocated sufficient resources for their maintenance, appropriately planned for replacement, and determined future needs. More specific objectives of the study can be found in the report that follows.


The methodology included interviews with managers and staff from the County Probation Department, the Internal Services Department, the County Administrative Office, the Treasurer-Tax Collector, and others. In addition, various laws and regulations related to juvenile facilities were reviewed, as well as internal records, reports and statistical data. Finally, both Juvenile Hall facilities were inspected by a well-qualified independent facilities maintenance consultant.

General Assessment

Our report contains some specific recommendations on issues related to funding, facility maintenance, capital planning and other aspects of the operations of these facilities. Although we have found opportunities for improvement, our limited review indicates that the Probation and the Internal Services Departments are generally performing satisfactorily when managing the probation facilities for which they are responsible. Most facility issues are related to funding deficiencies in recent years, and the continual stress placed upon the facilities by chronic overcrowding.


Our report confirms that the two juvenile halls are aging facilities that are becoming increasingly costly to maintain -- even at a minimal level. This is particularly true of Central Juvenile Hall, which has suffered unrepaired earthquake damage and years of deferred maintenance.

We seriously question, given the facility's age and current condition, whether it will be cost effective, or even possible regardless of expense, for the Board of Supervisors to plan on keeping Central Juvenile Hall operating much longer. As our report indicates, the Probation Department has undertaken virtually no long range facility planning. They have begun the process this year, and we have made some recommendations as to how this can be improved.

Special Recommendations to the Board of Supervisors

It is recommended that the Board of Supervisors:

History and Physical Condition Of The Juvenile Halls

Central Juvenile Hall

The County of Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall and Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall are the oldest of the three Juvenile Hall facilities operated by the County. The Central Juvenile Hall complex was originally established in 1912 as the first juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles County. The facility is located on twenty-two and one-half acres of land in central Los Angeles, and currently has 24 buildings reportedly built between circa 1923 and 1978. The facility includes living units, two infirmaries, two school buildings, two gyms, kitchen facilities, a chapel, and mechanical areas. It has a Board of Corrections rated capacity of 420 beds.

The oldest of the 24 buildings, a boys' dormitory identified as "Building 8," was closed in 1978 due to structural weaknesses, and has been condemned since 1991. An Intake and Medical Services Building (Building 4) was heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and is presently undergoing reconstruction and seismic upgrade which should be completed in the year 2000.

Generally, the operational portions of Central Juvenile Hall are in reasonable condition considering their age and use, and the facility will be greatly enhanced once the Building 4 improvements are completed. The complex will be improved even further if the County is successful at securing Federal and State grant funds for facility replacement and expansion (these issues are discussed more fully in the body of this report). However, certain observations were made during this study which deserve note.

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall

The Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall complex was opened in 1957 on a 26 acre parcel in Downey. In 1963, a girls division was added, and in 1975, an 80-bed, two story building was constructed to house a family treatment program, an intensive care unit and a regular living unit. In 1976, three Juvenile Court departments and an administrative wing were added. No new construction has occurred since that time.

The facility has 23 buildings, and includes living units, an infirmary, school buildings, a laundry, a kitchen, a chapel, a gym, and maintenance and mechanical areas. It has a Board of Correction rated capacity of 421 beds. No buildings were significantly damaged in recent earthquakes.

As with Central Juvenile Hall, the operational portions of the facility are in reasonable condition, given the age and use of the facility. However, certain conditions at this facility also deserve special attention.

Each year outside agencies make several inspections of the County's juvenile detention facilities. These inspection reports were reviewed for this study and indicate that the County's juvenile hall facilities are in technical compliance with applicable laws and regulations permitting the continued confinement of minors. However, in the past several years these inspections have noted a number of facility deficiencies, including several which have recurred without correction by the County (see next section).

Maintenance Program

Central and Los Padrinos juvenile halls are both aging facilities that have experienced many years of unfunded maintenance, despite numerous and repeated requests for funding submitted by the Probation Department to the Board of Supervisors. Fiscal Year (FY) 1998-99 marks the first time in several years that County funds have been appropriated to the Probation Department to begin refurbishment and repair of facilities. In prior years, the Department has received Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to repair and renovate facilities damaged in earthquakes.

The Internal Services Department (ISD), the Probation Department's maintenance service provider, spends most of its contracted time reacting to pressing, and even emergency, maintenance situations. In fact, the ISD estimates that the majority of general maintenance repairs could be eliminated if major infrastructure enhancement projects were funded. The following report explains our findings in more detail and includes recommendations.

Facility Condition

The facility condition assessment of Central and Los Padrinos juvenile halls was developed based on our inspections of the facilities, as well as inspection reports prepared by other agencies, and interviews.

Central Juvenile Hall - General Assessment

Central Juvenile Hall (CJH) is a facility which reflects years of unfunded capital and deferred maintenance projects. There is significant wear and tear on buildings and mechanical systems caused by age and chronic facility overcrowding, along with damage caused by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

Central has had a series of buildings added since it was first opened in 1912. Several buildings expanded its capacity in the 1950's and again in the late 1970's. To assist the Probation Department with the development of a proposal for a March 1999 State Board of Corrections (BOC) Local Detention Facility Construction Grant, the ISD prepared an Infrastructure Analysis and Life Span Projection report. The report states that over $8 million in repair and reconstruction costs would be required just to keep the facility operational for the next ten years. The findings in this report were consistent with previous assessments made by others. Some of the most consistent inspection findings are described in the sections that follow. (An asterisk denotes items appearing on inspection reports for multiple years.)

The plumbing systems are deteriorating and are not sufficient for the current facility population. Pipes are corroded, sewage drains frequently back-up, and water fountains andradiators are frequently found broken. Hot water capacity has been insufficient in some areas of the facility. There has been a general deterioration of electrical systems throughout the facility. Further, the walls and ceilings are stained, and there is evidence of water damage in some areas due to previous roof leaks.* Plaster walls show evidence of shifting and patching due to earthquake damage. Plaster and paint are peeling in various parts of the facility, including the kitchen. Doors are rusty, and there are missing floor and ceiling tiles. There is evidence of asbestos in floor tiles and adhesives, and in insulation surrounding piping and storage tanks. Doors are jammed due to shifts in the building, some restroom doors are inoperable,* and some locks are inoperable on exit doors and room doors. Windows are broken and some sinks and showers are inoperable.

In addition to the general maintenance needs of the facility, the design is outdated and inefficient for staff. In 1996, the Board of Corrections characterized Central Juvenile Hall as having an outdated design that lacks utility and efficiency. The CJH layout is linear, which makes it difficult to properly supervise minors. Accordingly, the design of the facility contributes to its general deterioration since it is difficult for staff to observe vandalism and other behavior which may cause damage.

The Board of Supervisors, recognizing the urgency of the County's growing deferred maintenance needs, allocated funds for some infrastructure improvement projects in FY 1998-99. As a result, CJH now has new roofs on five buildings. Replacement of underground steam piping is underway, and roof replacement of seven additional buildings is expected to begin in June 1999. These repairs indicate that CJH is on its way to redressing the neglect which has been apparent in recent years. The Probation Department has concluded that Central is an essential component of the juvenile detention system, and through Board allocations, FEMA funds, and other grants, is actively working to rebuild and repair the facility.

Despite the significant repair and maintenance issues facing CJH, it continues to be certified for occupancy by the various regulatory and advisory bodies which are charged with inspection duties and therefore adjudged suitable to house minors.

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall - General Assessment

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall was constructed in 1957 to relieve overcrowding conditions at Central Juvenile Hall. Here, too, there is a clear historical record of facility repair needs contained in the various inspection reports.

This facility has an underground piping system and steam boiler system installed in the 1950's. The high water table and corrosive soil cause the underground piping system to fail regularly, and the age of both systems create constant repair demands. Pipes throughout the facility corrode, and there are frequent water and steam leaks. The toilets have lime deposits. The air handlers and the controls date to the 1950s, and the chillers, pumps and aircompressors date from the 1970s. Because of the age of these systems they require regular repair. As with CJH, the inspection reports produced by other agencies noted missing floor and ceiling tiles* and peeling paint in many locations. Ceilings are damaged and some floors are rust stained, providing evidence of previous water leaks. There is asbestos-containing material present throughout the facility.

The kitchen ceiling is damaged,* restroom doors are missing,* and glass panes and window frames are broken. Doors have "key and lock" damage. Light protection devices have been missing,* and overhead fixtures have been broken. A meat freezer was observed to be "broken" over multiple inspection periods.* The sidewalks and walkway surfaces are separated and uneven, which pose safety and liability issues. Probation's funding requests for Los Padrinos do not reflect that funding for such a repair project has been pursued.

The central steam heating plant which provides domestic hot and cold water, and low-pressure steam, is one of the facility's most significant problems. The 26- acre site is located over an old riverbed and has a very shallow water table. This problem, combined with the alkaline soil conditions from livestock that previously occupied the property, has led to the overall deterioration of the underground utilities. These utilities are an integral part of the facility infrastructure, providing heating, water, and sewage systems. The Probation Department is well aware of this issue and is proposing to put the sprinkler system and drinking water piping above ground, and add isolation valves so one malfunction will not require shutting down the entire system.

Despite the facility-related challenges Probation is facing, the Department has worked to make the facility as safe and livable as possible. Five deferred maintenance projects have been funded by the Board of Supervisors for this facility in FY 1998-99, including re-roofing 12 buildings, two phases of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) re-piping, and replacing the underground water piping system.

General Maintenance Repair (ISD)

In 1987, the County's central maintenance account was decentralized. The Board of Supervisors directed County departments to choose how to deal with their maintenance and repair needs by: (1) developing in-house capacity; (2) finding outside contractors, within the County's contracting guidelines; or (3) hiring the Facilities Management Department. In 1989, the Board of Supervisors created the Internal Services Department. The Probation Department, along with 68 other County agencies, chose to hire ISD to perform its facility repair and maintenance functions.

ISD provides services to the Probation Department under service agreements which are renewed annually. Currently, the Probation Department and ISD have an $818,000 service contract for Central Juvenile Hall and a $481,000 contract for Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. The Service Agreement clearly defines exceptions to the scope of services. Exceptionsinclude vandalism (e.g. graffiti removal, replacement of broken windows, etc.), earthquake damage, and parking lot maintenance. Service requests fall into three categories:

Category One Work - Completion Rate and Backlog

Generally, juvenile hall staff generate Category One work orders. Staff reports a maintenance issue to the Services Director, who submits a repair request. ISD then logs the request, determines if the repair is something that can be completed by the on-site worker, or dispatches a craftsperson, as needed.

Regular maintenance, or Category One work requests, are logged by type of work, date/time requested, craft assignment/craftsperson assigned, and date/time completed. Interviews and a review of records, indicates that ISD is able to complete a significant portion (88%) of its work within five days of receiving the order.

There were approximately 950 general maintenance (Category One) work orders at Central Juvenile Hall for the same period. Some work orders (about 50 per month) are not documented because the on-site worker repairs items without recording the work(e.g. changing a light bulb). If the pattern of the work load for the remainder of the fiscal year remains consistent with the fiscal year to date, then the total number of annualized Category One work orders for Central would be approximately 2,025, and 1,990 for Los Padrinos.

During the same eight-month period, there were 45 (3.3% of total) outstanding general maintenance job requests at Los Padrinos. These jobs had been incomplete for an average of 26 days. Similarly, there were 33 (2.4% of total) outstanding job requests at Central, which had been incomplete for an average of 34 days. Approximately half of all general maintenance job delays are due to staff shortage in specific craft areas, such as locksmiths, and the other half result from delays in obtaining certain materials, such as sheet metal, etc.

At Central Juvenile Hall, ISD performs an annual facility inspection. Similarly, at Los Padrinos, ISD performs occasional inspections. In order to focus more on preventative maintenance instead of reactive or emergency maintenance, ISD should conduct formalquarterly or semi-annual inspections of the County's juvenile detention facilities with Probation staff. More frequent inspections will allow ISD to better anticipate upcoming maintenance needs, ultimately providing Probation with more time to prepare for funding requests or general capital planning.

Category Two Work - Completion Rate and Backlog

Category Two work orders are usually produced by an ISD worker who notices a maintenance problem while on-site. Since Category Two work orders do not fall under the general building maintenance contract, the department must pay extra for the service. Probation determines whether to fund a recommendation based on health and safety requirements and other competing needs.

At CJH, due to budget constraints, only 50% of the ISD recommended Category Two work order repairs, representing 13.3% of estimated costs, have been authorized. Unfunded Category Two work orders are likely to turn into a larger, more complex, and more costly maintenance problem if not addressed in a timely manner. Examples of such items include replacement of a hot water boiler ($20,900) and repiping the hot/cold water system ($87,200).

Before the Probation Department decides to forego a repair recommendation, it should have a clear understanding of the potential long-term maintenance impact. For example, an ISD manager estimates that there have been over 15 repair calls for service at Central related to the unfunded domestic hot water system repair since the recommendation was made to the Department on December 7, 1998.

Category Three work orders are major repair requests which are forwarded to the County's Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for funding consideration. Category Three work orders are discussed in greater detail in the Deferred Maintenance section of this report.

Service Agreement

As part of this study, we interviewed managers at three different levels in the Probation Department and, among other questions, inquired about the terms of the Service Agreement. It became evident that there is some misunderstanding among these Probation Department managers about certain portions of the Service Agreement.

For example, in some instances managers believed that damage due to vandalism is included in the contract's scope of services. Further, some believed (1) that contracting with a provider other than ISD is not an option, or (2) that contracting is only an available option if ISD is not able to perform the work. It appears, however, that damage due to vandalism is excluded under the base contract, and that the Probation Department may contract with providers other than ISD for service.

It is critical that ISD and Probation staff be fully aware of the scope of services defined in the contract, particularly at the management level. Since managers are in decision-making positions, usually with some authority over funding allocations, it is particularly crucial that they thoroughly understand the conditions of the contract. Any misunderstanding about the provisions prohibits ISD and Probation from improving maintenance services.


Damage caused by vandalism is a contributing factor to the wear of the physical plant and is an ongoing issue at both facilities. Obviously, vandalism does not just damage the facility, it also impacts the culture of the institution, living standards for juveniles, and staff morale in general. Vandalism includes damage such as breaking windows, tearing mattresses, and destroying night-lights.

We performed a limited review of two options to assist Probation with addressing vandalism-related damage in its facilities.

1. Recover Costs from Parents

We were advised that no formal written policy or procedure regarding the recovery of vandalism repair costs exists in the Department. What recovery that does occur is haphazard at best. At CJH, it appears that parents are billed if the damage is "extensive" enough. Each report is evaluated on a case basis, since there is no clear definition of what constitutes extensive damage. At Los Padrinos, the practice of billing parents to recover costs is not in place. Instead, Los Padrinos responds to its vandalism problem through a daily graffiti abatement program and various sanctions.

The Probation Department is presently developing a program which will allow repair costs to be recovered from parents using civil procedures. In so doing, the Department should determine the steps in the process which might be cumbersome or render the effort ineffective and, therefore, not cost effective.

2. Change the Terms of the Service Agreement

The Probation and Internal Services Departments should also examine how vandalism repair may be more effectively addressed through change(s) in the terms of the Service Agreement. As stated earlier, vandalism is not covered by the contract. As a result, such repairs are performed on an ad hoc basis and may add to existing facility issues.

In any case, it is apparent that the two departments need to work together to ensure that any untreated vandalism does not contribute to the general disrepair of the facilities. The departments should consider expanding the scope of services to include vandalism-related damage, which could be charged at a higher rate than other repair work, providing a financial incentive for probation to reduce vandalism incidence.

Deferred Maintenance Projects

ISD identifies all major maintenance and repair projects and prioritizes the projects from one through five. A "one" ranking indicates that the project is urgent and should be completed within one year. A "five" ranking indicates that the repair could be deferred for up to five years. Then, ISD notifies the Probation Department and the County's Chief Administrative Officer about all major repair needs. These projects are considered for funding each fiscal year and as funds become available.

As mentioned earlier, the Los Padrinos and Central Juvenile Hall facilities are in their current condition partly because maintenance repairs have gone unfunded for several years.

Unfunded projects at CJH such as replacing roofs, demolishing Building 8 and removing asbestos, replacing underground steam pipes, replacing air conditioning units, and refurbishing the court waiting room are evidence of Probation's numerous attempts to repair and upgrade its facilities. Some projects have been deferred for almost ten years, as shown on the following table.

Table 1

Number of Years Maintenance Projects Deferred

Central Juvenile Hall:
Replace HVAC system 10 years
Replace domestic water piping 10 years
Replace heat exchangers 5 years
Renovate restrooms 5 years
Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall:
Renovate Irrigation System 5 years
Replace steam lines 5 years
Rebuild freezer 3 years
Replace heat exchangers 3 years
Clean HVAC ducts 5 years
Replace air handler 5 years

Certain unfunded projects at Los Padrinos, such as lighting improvements, have resulted in second and third year State inspection violations. Besides multiple year violations, required repairs are no longer cost effective. It is estimated that 85% of Category One and Two repairs could be eliminated if major maintenance projects were funded. If this estimate is accurate, eliminating 85% of Category One and Two repairs translates into an estimated $406,760 in savings to Los Padrinos and an estimated $840,780 savings to CJH annually.

Recently Funded Capital and Infrastructure Enhancement Projects

The first stream of funding for building repairs during the past several years, came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. CJH received approximately $8,800,000, and Los Padrinos received $97,874. FEMA funds can only be used to repair damage cause by the earthquake, not for maintenance or improvements. Some earthquake-related projects have not yet been completed or are pending appeal to FEMA for funds.

In 1998, the Probation Department also received over $12 million from the Board of Supervisors for capital and infrastructure improvements. These funds have been allocated to various projects, with CJH receiving $938,500, and Los Padrinos receiving $2,278,750.

On September 15, 1999, the Board of Supervisors approved $4.25 million for the County's Loan/Match Program to assist departments with meeting their routine and preventative maintenance needs. Over $12 million in requests were made. The Probation Department received $349,000 in matching funds from the Program, making almost $700,000 available for projects. Neither Central nor Los Padrinos Juvenile Halls received funding, which speaks to the breadth of the Departments maintenance needs.

In addition, a pending budget adjustment transferring approximately $15 million of the Department's employee salary and benefits savings to its Services and Supplies budget will help to fund additional maintenance projects. The Department has identified over $300,000 in projects for Los Padrinos and a slightly smaller amount for Central.


The Central and Los Padrinos Juvenile Halls are outdated facilities with significant maintenance needs. The impact of overcrowding on the facilities, lingering effects of the 1994 earthquake, and the results of unfunded maintenance projects have all contributed to the current facility condition.

Although the Probation Department has made repeated requests for funding of the most critical projects, the Board of Supervisors has been unable to provide any significant financial assistance until this fiscal year. As a result, the County is just now beginning needed renovation and rebuilding projects.

Nevertheless, the Probation Department and ISD could implement changes which would better define the program and cost impact from deferred maintenance. In addition, Probation needs to clarify the terms of the Facility Maintenance Service Agreement with the Internal Services Department so that vandalism damage is covered and critical repairs are accomplished in a timely manner.

Corrective costs are higher than if maintenance is dealt with on an ongoing and preventative basis. The Probation Department and ISD should thoroughly evaluate the long-term impact of deferring maintenance, and continue to aggressively seek funding from the Board of Supervisors on a planned, regular, yearly allocation.



This section of our report evaluates juvenile hall population trends and impacts on the Probation Department, and discusses the difficulties facing the County as it attempts to move juveniles from the halls to more appropriate settings, replace deteriorating and outdated facilities, and expand upon its inventory of beds so that it can meet future demands resulting from population growth.

The County of Los Angeles operates three juvenile hall facilities. Although our study scope was intended to evaluate only the Central Juvenile Hall and the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, certain issues related to population management at all three facilities were examined. The need to expand the scope in this regard was necessary because the Probation Department transfers and assigns juveniles to each facility based on detention need (e.g., proximity to Court, housing classification, security risk, etc.), and uses the juvenile halls in other ways to regulate system overcrowding.

In 1998 and 1999, the Probation Department reports that it housed an average of approximately 1,975 juveniles in the three juvenile halls each day. The juvenile halls have a combined capacity rating of 1,443 beds by the California State Board of Corrections (BOC). Therefore, the facilities house an average of 532 juveniles more than the rated capacity, or 36.9 percent more than permitted under California regulations. This overpopulation fluctuates based on the time of day, day of the week, and cyclical juvenile crime patterns in the County.

In addition, the proportion of the population that exceeds the rated capacity at each of the three facilities differs by location. Statistics produced by the Department, as part of a recent grant application to the State, indicate that:

In part, the differences in these overpopulation percentages are due to the location and primary function of each facility. A sample we conducted of daily population counts by classification category at each facility during 1998 indicated that 58.6% of the juveniles in Central Juvenile Hall are awaiting disposition (cases pending), with nearly all juveniles who have been remanded to adult court being held at that location. This contrasts sharply with the other facilities, which have lower percentages of juveniles pending adult court, and lower percentages of juveniles in predisposition case status generally.

At Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, approximately 36.4 percent of the population is awaiting placement in private institutions, compared with much lower percentages at the other facilities, while at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall approximately 38.0 percent of the population has been returned from one of the Department's 18 juvenile camps, or are awaiting placement at those camps (10.7% and 27.3% respectively). The reasons for these differences in the characteristics of the population at each hall are numerous, and relate to operational, programmatic and geographic decisions made by the Department. Nonetheless, by assigning juveniles to each hall based on considerations other than facility capacity, the effect of crowding is much more significant at Central and Los Padrinos than it is at the Nidorf facility.

To address this overcrowding, the Department reports that it has implemented various programs to move juveniles from the halls as soon as possible after case disposition. These strategies include an improved intake process to screen juveniles eligible for placement in community detention, residential treatment, alternative work service, and intensive probation programs. Additionally, the Department is streamlining its procedures to expedite, where appropriate, the transfer of juveniles to State facilities, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and to County Jail. Further, the "Excel Program," provides structured training for juveniles to maximize the positive impact of detention and reduce recidivism.

Probation managers also report that they are evaluating other program alternatives which will have a positive impact on the populations of the County's juvenile halls. These include contracting with a private provider to operate a 50-bed "Placement Assessment Center," using specialized treatment placement facilities outside of the County for juveniles with psychiatric and/or drug and alcohol treatment needs, and, in conjunction with County Mental Health, the expansion of "wrap-around" services for juvenile offenders.

The Department is also evaluating its detention screening criteria to determine whether more lower risk juvenile offenders can safely be placed on electronic monitoring. A successful program could potentially reduce the pre-disposition population in the halls.

Other programs and legislative changes are being pursued which would limit or shorten the stay in juvenile halls and camps for some categories of juvenile offenders, expedite placement or transfer to State facilities, and contract for secure bed space in other counties. The Department, in conjunction with the Juvenile Court, should continue to explore such alternatives as safe and effective means for reducing the juvenile hall population.

However, other external factors will adversely influence juvenile hall population levels. The most significant of these include:

Juvenile Hall Population Projections

In 1998, the Probation Department conducted an analysis of historical juvenile hall and camp population statistics for the period 1990 through 1998, and a projection of anticipated changes in juvenile populations for the period 1999 through 2005. This data shows that the juvenile hall population had declined from an average of 1,910 juveniles in 1990, to a low of 1,648 in 1993. However, since 1993, the population steadily increased to a projected 1,956 in 1998.

To project future growth, the Department analyzed County juvenile population data by age group and ethnicity, and applied the current rate of detention per 100,000 juveniles residing in the County for the years 1999 through 2005. Based on this analysis, the Department projects that the juvenile hall population will increase by 24 percent during this period, to an average of approximately 2,425 juvenile per day. This is 469 more than the current population, and 982 more than the current rated capacity of the County's facilities. Similar growth in the Department's juvenile camp population is also projected to occur.

We reviewed the methodology used by the Department to prepare these projections and believe it is reasonable. However, as will be discussed in Section 3 of this report, the Department should continue efforts to expand and improve the quality of detention population projections so that they can be readily incorporated into both program and capital planning. Further, because of the long-range planning horizon which is necessary for capital planning purposes, the County should work to refine its general population projection methodology and extend it for a longer period of time (e.g., 20 years). Such longer-range planning is necessary if the County is to realistically accommodate growth needs into the future.

Impact Of Increased Population On Detention Facility Needs

The Department has recognized all of these options, and appears to be working diligently on each. However, without appropriate funding or support from the taxpayers and the Board of Supervisors, it will be a difficult challenge for the Department to meet its needs into the future.

Current Plans For Facility Expansion

In 1996, the County completed the construction of a 160 bed addition to the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, which increased its capacity from 442 beds to its current level of 602. This construction project was the first major expansion of juvenile hall bed capacity since 1978, and was funded primarily with Proposition 86 funds.

Currently, the County is reconstructing the intake and medical unit at the Central Juvenile Hall which was heavily damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. When completed, this facility will add 73 rated beds to the facility, bringing the total rated capacity to 493 beds. This does not include the 38 additional infirmary beds, which are not rated for regular occupancy by the State Board of Corrections.

In FY 1998-99, the federal and State governments are making available approximately $177.4 million State-wide for the construction of juvenile detention facilities. Approximately $78.9 million of this amount has been allocated by the federal government under the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act for the construction orexpansion of juvenile detention facilities. The remaining $98.5 million has been allocated by the State for the "renovation, reconstruction, construction, completion, and replacement" of county juvenile facilities. Both grants require a 25 percent match from the applicant jurisdiction.

In March, the Los Angeles County Probation Department submitted a grant application to the State for nearly $26.2 million of the total grant amount to replace and expand bed space at Central Juvenile Hall. The total project cost of $34.4 million to demolish one condemned and two older housing units at the facility, and to construct two 120 bed buildings, will require a County match of $7,437,829. On March 2, 1999, at the request of the Probation Department and the Chief Administrative Office, the Board of Supervisors to adopted a resolution authorizing the Department to submit its application and committing to the $7.4 million match if the grant is received. On May 20, 1999, the Board of Corrections formally approved the grant at 25.3 million.

The gross addition of 240 beds at the Central Juvenile Hall will replace 83 beds which presently exist in the buildings targeted for demolition, resulting in a net increase of 157 beds from this project. If the grant is approved and the construction is successfully completed, the total bed capacity at CJH will increase to 650 by September 30, 2002. This rated capacity will be 16 beds less than the current average daily population at the facility, as computed by the Probation Department.

It is likely that the County will receive these grant funds, resulting in a significant improvement in the facility condition at Central Juvenile Hall. These new units will be constructed to "new generation" standards, which will increase staff effectiveness, facility security, and juvenile safety at that location. However, even with this expansion, the County will continue to operate much of the facility in old-style linear buildings, will see no change in facility status at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, and will be operating with at least 300 juveniles over capacity throughout the juvenile hall system each day, even assuming no population growth.

If the Department is unable to reduce its juvenile hall population at the same or faster pace as population growth, and no additional facilities are constructed, the total juvenile hall population could exceed rated capacity by as many as 770 juveniles per day by 2005 (compared with 532 juveniles over capacity in 1999). It is clear that given the current condition of Central and Los Padrinos juvenile halls, the expected growth in juvenile detention population, and expected crowding at the juvenile camps (discussed previously), the Probation Department will be unable to meet future need without embarking on a significant construction program.

Although the County has generally taken advantage of Federal and State construction grants for juvenile detention facilities during the past 20 years, it has not proactively developed other funding sources for this purpose. Unless a more proactive stance is taken,the Probation Department will be unable to meet the future detention needs that will be created by the expanding juvenile offender population in the County.

Construction Financing Alternatives

The California Constitution prohibits State and local government from establishing new taxes or fees without approval of two thirds of the voters. Based on this restriction, the County has been extremely limited in its ability to generate funds for the construction of facilities from tax overrides. The last time the County went to the voters with a proposal for a general tax increase to secure General Obligation Bond financing was in 1987.

In addition, the County uses various short-term and intermediate borrowing as "bridge financing" or for cash flow needs.

Each of these long-term debt instruments has its benefits and problems. Bonds, which are secured by voter approved borrowings or special revenues, are generally the County's preferred mechanism since repayment of the debt is guaranteed by the voters and there is no impact on operating costs. COPs and TECPs are less desirable since the amount of borrowing is generally limited by the value of assets owned by the County, and debt must be repaid from revenue sources which would otherwise be available for other County programs. Similarly, bonds which are issued by a public facilities corporation and are secured by lease revenues paid by the County, result in a long-term financial obligation for the County and must also be repaid from discretionary sources.

Certainly, each borrowing must be evaluated on its own merits. For example, issuing COPs or entering into a lease-purchase arrangement to construct a facility might be more cost-effective than a straight lease with a landlord, which would be subject to annual inflationary increases in cost. Similarly, the construction of a new facility which is moreenergy efficient, requires less maintenance, and results in potential operating savings due to staffing efficiencies, may be preferable to the continued occupation of an older, less efficient facility.

However, the County has not conducted any such analysis of the costs and benefits of rebuilding and/or expanding juvenile hall capacity. Such an analysis could show that there exists good business justification for such construction, even if there is an added cost to the General Fund. In addition, such an analysis may provide sufficient justification for the County to present an argument to the voters to secure General Obligation Bond financing for juvenile detention facility construction.

It is clear that the County's facility construction needs are great. Throughout the County, facilities are deteriorating or no longer suitable for their intended use. This creates a dilemma for the Board of Supervisors as it tries to balance operating needs against competing facility construction requirements in the County. Although the Board, by policy, has established a limit on annual payments on intermediate and long-term debt as a percent of the total County budget of four percent in order to maintain its credit worthiness, it is well below this limit. In FY 1998-99, the County's payments were at $461.02 million, which was 3.47 percent of the total County budget. This would allow the County to obtain an additional $1.0 billion to $1.2 billion in debt before the limit is reached. Any financing secured by voter- approved taxes or fees would fall outside this self-imposed limit. Consequently, the County has significant ability to finance construction of new facilities for the Probation Department, depending upon the Board's determination of priority against other County needs.

The Chief Administrative Office has recently begun a project to establish capital priorities with the development of a Facilities Asset Management Plan for the County. This project will evaluate all owned, leased and new facilities County-wide, and will examine all infrastructure needs for County departments within a five-year horizon. While it is anticipated that mostly refurbishment projects will be recommended, new facilities will likely be recommended for the County/USC Medical Center, the Coroner-Medical Examiner Annex, the County Data Center, and others. The total cost of needed improvements is not known at this time. However, it is incumbent that the Probation Department immediately begin a facility needs assessment for its entire operation so that its requirements are clearly articulated to the CAO and the Board. Without appropriate analysis, it is likely that Probation will not receive adequate recognition of its needs. This is discussed more fully in Section 5 of this report.

The City of Los Angeles has recognized similar issues with its Police and Fire facility needs. In November 1999, the City intends to go to the voters with a $742 million facility construction bond proposal, which will be the first in a 20-year planning horizon to build and replace over $2 billion of facilities. The County should look to the City's process as a model for articulating its needs for the Probation Department and others.


In 1998 and 1999, the County's juvenile hall facilities have averaged approximately 600 juveniles per day over the capacity authorized by the State Board of Corrections. To cope with this condition, the Department assigns two juveniles to rooms which are rated for one, converts day rooms into permanent sleeping quarters, and sleeps some juveniles in common areas which are used for community living purposes during the day and early evening hours.

By the Department's projections, the chronic crowding of the juvenile halls will continue as the County's population of juvenile offenders grows. By 2005, it is estimated that the total population will be approximately 80 percent over the rated capacity at some locations. Combined with the deteriorated condition and outdated design of existing facilities, safety and environmental conditions will worsen for both juveniles and staff.

To alleviate this crowding, the Department is (a) exploring programs intended to safely remove juveniles from the halls by placing them into treatment and community programs, and (b) applying for federal and State grant funds to replace some unsuitable dormitories and expand housing capacity at Central Juvenile Hall. These efforts are commendable, and should be supported by the Board of Supervisors.

However, even with these improvements, it is likely that neither current nor future housing requirements will be met unless dramatic steps are taken by the County. Consequently, the Board of Supervisors should fund a study of multi-year juvenile detention facility needs, fashioned after similar studies recently completed by the City of Los Angeles for police, fire and other services. Based on the results of this needs assessment, the County should consider alternatives for accomplishing a construction program to be financed with federal and State grants, as well as General Obligation Bonds or other available financing mechanisms.



The Probation Department is the largest in the nation, providing both adult and juvenile services, and operating custody facilities which house over 4,000 juveniles daily. In October 1998, the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller issued a Phase I Management Audit of the Probation Department which contained recommendations related to the Department's "effectiveness at directing the activities of the probation Department toward the accomplishment of its mission." The report contained recommendations ranging from leadership, to issues regarding human relations and technology.

In addition, the Auditor-Controller recommended that the Department develop strategic plans for information technology which "define long-term objectives and goals, and allocate resources to carry out this strategy."

The Department has embraced these suggestions and structured a management team to include a strategic planning function under the Business Development Division. This division has been charged with working with the Department's management team to develop a strategic plan consistent with the suggestions made by the Auditor-Controller in October 1998. It is the Department's intention to have initial strategic planning steps completed by the end of Summer, 1999.

At the present time, the Department indicates that it has pursued strategic planning and capital planning from two separate directions. To some extent, this appears to be the result of the newness of the strategic planning process as well as the immediate need to respond to capital grant funding available from the federal and State governments. In the longer term, it is the Department's reported intention to integrate capital planning into the strategic planning process, along with information technology planning and human resources planning. Accordingly, the strategic plan should provide a sound operational plan which will be supported by key elements in capital, information technology, and human resources. These elements will be critical for the Department as it accomplishes its overall mission.

The strategic planning efforts are commendable, and the Department should be recognized for its vision in this area. However, for any strategic planning process to besuccessful, it must receive buy-in from stakeholders-such as the judges and law enforcement officials-and from high level policy makers, such as the Board of Supervisors. With this support, the Board must be willing to make sufficient resources available to support the planning function and ensure the planning effort is sustained. This is sometimes difficult to accomplish during periods of diminishing financial resources when direct service priorities takes precedence over administrative and support activities, so the real test of the County's commitment in this area will not be known until such time as the relatively good financial environment now being experienced in the County takes a down turn.

Accordingly, as a first step toward accomplishing a successful strategic planning effort for capital needs, the Probation Department needs to strengthen its long term capability in this regard. This should include:

Once these basics are determined, the Department should develop a proposal to the Board of Supervisors which would ensure that appropriate resources are available for the capital planning function to be successful. The new function, with appropriate staffing and other required resources, should be institutionalized and be regarded as a top priority within the Department and by the Board of Supervisors.


As part of an overall strategic planning effort, and in conjunction with infrastructure planning being coordinated by the Chief Administrative Officer, the Probation Department is just now embarking on a capital planning process. The integration of an operational and capital plan with the Department's strategic vision is important if it is to meet the needs of its juvenile clients into the future.

It is critical that a process be established which will ensure that appropriate capital planning becomes institutionalized within the Department, and that efforts in this area not be abandoned during difficult financial periods. Accordingly, the CAO and the Board of Supervisors should support the Department in this area and provide the resources necessary to make program and capital planning a permanent and effective function in the Probation Department.


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