The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for an ambitious plan to divert thousands of the county’s youth away from the juvenile and criminal justice systems, connecting them instead to a comprehensive array of supportive services, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Speakers declared strong support for a 78-page report, “A Roadmap for Advancing Youth Diversion in LA County,” that provided the framework for the sweeping strategy proposed. “This is an historic day in the history of justice reform,” Dr. Robert Ross of The California Endowment told the board. “We know that 80 percent of the youth now being arrested in the county could be diverted to community-based services if the plan is realized.”
The report said 13,665 arrests and citations were issued to the county’s young in 2015. About 11,000 of those 2015 arrests — “including status offenses, misdemeanors, and low-level felonies” — would have been eligible for diversion in lieu of arrest or citation had the new program been up and running. Michael Nash of the Office of Child Protection, former presiding juvenile court judge, said the program will help ensure that foster youth “have equal access” to the advantages and services of diversion. Speakers described the 18-month process of designing the proposed new strategy as an unusually inclusive one, involving law enforcement leaders, local judges, county officials, health experts, community advocates and young people who had themselves been incarcerated.