top of page

Juvenile Hall Fight Videos Raise Questions About Safety Of Youth Behind Bars 

A report from L.A. County probation officer Tanesha Brooks detailed multiple fights at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall but omitted crucial details such as injuries and officer presence. Video footage later revealed a more disturbing scene where a 17-year-old was repeatedly assaulted while officers did little to intervene. This incident has raised questions about the accuracy and trustworthiness of probation officers' reports, which influence court decisions regarding juvenile sentences and security levels.

Defense attorneys like Milinda Kakani argue that without video evidence, reports often go unchallenged, leading to potential injustices. Officer Jerrod Montgomery admitted he doesn't seek the truth in these reports, further highlighting systemic issues. The probation department's 2013 honesty directive mandates truthful reporting, but recent policy updates and incidents suggest ongoing problems with accuracy.

Public defender Sherrie Albin, representing the teen from the Los Padrinos video, mentioned the difficulty in challenging every report due to the lack of video evidence and the juveniles' fear of retaliation. The teen's family has filed a claim against the probation department, alleging that officers encouraged the fights.

"It's an issue across the criminal justice system. The credibility of witnesses is subject to the frailties of [them] potentially not telling us the truth," he said. "So the adversarial system itself is supposed to ferret that out." said Larry Droeger, who oversees juvenile cases as director of specialized prosecutions for the district attorney's office.

Similar discrepancies between officer reports and video evidence have surfaced in other cases, such as an incident in Malibu's Camp Kilpatrick where officers were shown to use excessive force. These incidents have led to charges against some officers, but systemic issues remain.The probation department has suspended 66 officers this year for misconduct, but it is unclear if any face accusations of dishonesty. 

Samuel Leonard, a public defender, criticized the department for intimidating youths and protecting the status quo rather than addressing these issues. The California Department of Justice is investigating, but the challenges of ensuring accurate and truthful reporting persist.

"It's circle the wagons and protection of the status quo rather than do something proactive to improve the situation and protect the children," Leonard said. "The probation officers know where there are cameras and where there are not, so many of these things happen where there are not cameras, intentionally," he said.

Link: LA Times


bottom of page