After 2 escapes at Downey juvenile hall, LA County supervisor orders report on security

ByDavid Gonzalez KABC logo
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Security report ordered after 2 escapes at Downey juvenile hall
Following the second escape of a youth from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey since the facility reopened, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed probation officials provide a report on corrective actions.

DOWNEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Following the second escape of a youth from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey since the facility reopened in July, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed probation officials provide a report in two weeks on corrective actions and increased security measures being implemented at the facility.

The most recent escape took place on Saturday after a staff member was assaulted. Supervisor Janice Hahn said the youth was able to obtain keys and climb over a fence.

In both incidents, Hahn said, the escapees were captured shortly after. However, she said this cannot happen again.

"The safety of Los Angeles County communities is the upmost importance to the Board of Supervisors," Hahn said. "It's unacceptable two youth have managed to escape Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in the last four months."

Parents of children at the juvenile hall like Roxabla, who didn't want to show her face to protect the privacy of her daughter, said her daughter has been at the facility since Sunday.

Roxalba is worried about what takes place inside of the facility.

"Many times it could also be because of how they're treated. One doesn't know if there's bullying against them," she said.

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall had its lockdown lifted on Saturday night a day after a riot at the facility.

Albert Bañuelos with Los Padrinos said an investigation is underway to determine what happened and how to ensure the safety and security of juveniles and staff.

Bañuelos said, "As of Monday afternoon the lockdown was lifted. Full programming is in effect for the young people here at Los Padrinos. We're in a status of safety, security so there should be no more concerns for the community."

Roxalba said authorities often forget they're dealing with minors who need extra attention and care.

"As teens they should know the difference between what is good and what is bad. But adults should know a teen's level of understanding is not like the understanding of an adult," she said.

Hahn has directed the LA County Chief Probation Officer to come up with a corrective action plan to address security issues at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

The motion calls for the report by probation officials in two weeks to include "descriptions of additional security measures and policies being implemented by the Probation Department to prevent any future escape from the facility."

It also directs the county's chief probation officer to meet with Downey and South Gate officials to brief them on additional security measures. It also calls on the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the most recent escape, which occurred Saturday when a youth detainee allegedly assaulted a staff member, managed to obtain a set of keys then climbed over a fence.

The action plan is expected to be presented to the board of supervisors on Nov. 21.

Los Padrinos was renovated and reopened to replace Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Lincoln Heights, both of which came under fire by state regulators for conditions that rendered them unfit to house pre-trial youth detainees.

City News Service contributed to this report.