Hahn Aims to Decrease Wait Times at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by Chair Lindsey Horvath which aims to decrease the amount of time that lawyers, social workers, doctors, and other professionals wait to see young people detained at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

Reporting by the Southern California News Group’s Jason Henry detailed the challenges that attorneys, social workers, and other professionals have experienced getting timely access to their clients at Los Padrinos. Multiple attorneys and social workers experienced wait times of two to three hours. In some instances, other professional experts, like doctors, began refusing to evaluate clients at Los Padrinos because of the excessive wait times.

“Lawyers, doctors, and social workers need to be able to visit their young clients at Los Padrinos, and they shouldn’t have to wait two or three hours to see them,” said Supervisor Hahn, who represents the City of Downey where Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall is located. “This is unacceptable. The Probation Department needs to make immediate changes to allow people to see their clients faster and has to be transparent with our Board moving forward about the wait times at our juvenile facilities.”

Long wait times seem to be driven by staffing challenges the Probation Department is experiencing. As a response, the Probation Department recently added four privacy booths to the chapel, where juvenile clients meet with their attorneys at Los Padrinos, to accommodate and speed up visits.

“Long wait times are a barrier to the legal counsel and support our young people deserve,” said Board Chair Lindsey P. Horvath. “Social workers and public defenders are already stretched thin. Waiting two or three hours in a waiting room to meet with clients is unacceptable. Decreasing wait times and increasing predictability for professional services at Los Padrinos is among the actions the Probation Department must take to better serve the youth entrusted to its care.”

Today’s motion directed the Los Angeles County Probation Department to report back to the Board of Supervisors in four weeks with data on the professional visitor wait ties at Los Padrinos in the past three months as well as an analysis of any factors contributing to long wait times and strategies being implemented to reduce wait times and ensure timely access to visits from counsel, social workers, and other experts (e.g. adding more pods to the visitation area, increasing staff on busy days to bring youth to the visitation area, creating an electronic sign up system, etc.). The motion also directs the department to include data on wait times in its regular quarterly reports to the Board of Supervisors.

Lastly, the motion directs the Probation Department, in consultation with the Executive Director of the Probation Oversight Commission, County Counsel, the Public Defender, and the Alternate Public Defender, to update their existing policy or create a new procedure to include expected maximum wait times for visitation with legal counsel that are consistent with industry standards and a process for documenting extenuating circumstances when a wait time exceeds the expectation.