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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a motion to accept the final recommendations of a study that evaluated ways to reform Los Angeles County’s troubled Probation Department. It endorsed the findings of the LA County Probation Governance Study, which was the culmination of 18 months of work by Resource Development Associates (RDA), a consultant team that included local and national experts in justice reform.

The commissioned report made seven primary recommendations:

  • Develop a uniform mission statement, instituted to advance reform efforts;
  • Reorganize the Probation Department with youth and adult divisions to create needed specialization for each population;
  • Strengthen community partnerships and develop community-oriented offices;
  • Use structured decision making and validated risk/needs assessments to better place and track services;
  • Close and repurpose juvenile facilities, including one or two juvenile halls;
  • Address staffing, hiring and training issues; and
  • Invest in IT systems and use of data.

“There is consensus that these primary recommendations are essential to reforming Probation,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “The key now seems to be how to integrate, coordinate, and ensure that accountability systems are in place to advance this agenda to achieve stated benchmarks, with outcomes, to support clients and our communities.”

“Accepting RDA’s primary recommendations, and directly linking them to the efforts already underway on Probation reform, is the responsible thing to do,” he added. “The ultimate goal is a transformed department with clients’ well-being at its core.

Board Chair Sheila Kuehl said, “This report underscores the need to continue many of the positive actions that the County has been taking in recent years to strengthen and transform the nation’s largest probation department into a model for the rest of the country.”

“It also provides a practical framework for continued implementation of these important reforms,” she added. “I, and my fellow supervisors, are committed to seeing that this Probation Department provides not only oversight and supervision but also robust support systems for the adults and children in our care. Doing so better ensures the safety of all County residents.”

“RDA has done the crucial work of drawing on past reports, existing research, and input from the Probation Department and community stakeholders to craft an important and comprehensive set of recommendations,” said Josh Green, criminal justice program manager at the Urban Peace Institute, and an active community stakeholder working on juvenile justice reform. “The opportunity we have now is to imagine an implementation plan that recognizes the essential role of Board, the Department and community members, while also thinking about how we can all hold one another accountable.”