Violating medical and mental health guidelines, guards at Los Angeles County juvenile detention facilities kept suicidal inmates in arm and leg restraints around the clock, says a federal report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Investigators who have been monitoring conditions since 2000 reported yesterday that other mentally ill inmates have been secured for long periods in unpadded metal handcuffs and leg irons. They found deficiencies in how the county tracks use of force by guards, some of whom were involved in 40 to 60 violent incidents per year.
The problems with Los Angeles County’s giant juvenile detention system come at a time of persistent violence and a string of recent escapes. They may place the county at risk of being sued by the U.S. Justice Department, which has given the county until August to improve conditions at its three juvenile facilities. Local officials said they were correcting problems identified by the federal monitors.