The detention officer’s email described “chaos” inside one of Los Angeles County’s juvenile halls.
Her words were desperate, describing unruly, violent youth and fed up detention officers — enough to prompt a surprise visit by Joe Gardner, president of the county’s volunteer advisory panel, the Probation Commission.
Inside the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, he found shattered windows, smashed walls and tiles ripped from the ceilings. Phones in common areas were busted and debris lay scattered on the floors. Gang graffiti had been scrawled on the walls. The staff were overwhelmed.
“I was stunned,” Gardner said of the facility, where about 200 youths are housed behind a sturdy, red-brick wall topped with circular barbed wire. “Some of the damage appears to have taken time to do. It appeared there really wasn’t the oversight that there needed to be.”
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