Board of Supervisors Demands Action on Unspent Juvenile Justice Funds
Los Angeles, CA— Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas, instructed the County’s Probation Department to work quickly to move what may be as much as $79.1 million in unspent funds to community-based organizations focused on supporting at-risk youth.
Each year, the Los Angeles County Probation Department receives approximately $30 million in Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) funds which are supposed to be provided to local juvenile justice programs focused on delinquency prevention for at-risk youth. The Board of Supervisors has long been concerned with the allocation and mismanagement of JJCPA funds. Reports issued by the Auditor-Controller showed that tens of millions of dollars of JJCPA funds had been accumulating as well as a range of problems with contracting with community programs.
“It is unacceptable that non-profits dedicated to supporting youth are underfunded while millions of dollars meant for them are going unused,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “We need immediate clarity on these funds and a plan to get them out into the community as quickly as possible.”
“We are too often grappling with scarce resources to keep young people out of the juvenile justice system so I am deeply concerned that Los Angeles County has accumulated millions in state funds for this purpose that remain unspent,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “The Board has a responsibility to step in and empower the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council to resolve this issue. We must ensure the funds are spent, and in the most thoughtful, responsible and effective way possible.”
In addition, the committee responsible for overseeing these funds, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC) has expressed concerns that the Probation Department’s budget for spending JJCPA funds is out of line with the committee’s own plan. On March 18, 2019, the JJCC unanimously approved components of an updated plan that are data-driven, prioritize prevention and community-based interventions, and include a framework for updating the plan each year. However, the Probation Department’s budget that was presented was inconsistent with that plan and included programs and services that may be outdated.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and $79 million is a lot of prevention,” said Supervisor Hahn. “We believe this money can make a difference, intervening with young people early and making sure they don’t enter our system.”
Today, the Board of Supervisor passed a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas which seeks to get an expedited audit on unspent funds, align the JJCPA budget with the budget of the coordinating council, and develop strategies to prevent accumulation of these critical funds in the future.