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Friday 6th of December 2019

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In L.A., Nine in Ten Incarcerated Youth Have a Documented Mental Health Issue

Thursday 13th of June 2019 | North America, United States
The Chronicle of Social Change
News

After a new report found that more than 90 percent of youth in the county’s juvenile halls had an open mental health case, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors pledged to improve mental health care to justice-involved youth in county.

That includes both more services for youth detained in the county’s juvenile detention facilities and more options to divert youth away from incarceration and into less restrictive therapeutic placements in a community-based setting.

“The county’s failure to meet the mental health needs of the youth in our juvenile justice halls and camps was well documented by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the board’s meeting on Tuesday. “Yet over 15 years later, the county continues to struggle with this issue, and we have not met our commitments. The failure to adequately address the mental health needs of justice-involved youth has had serious consequences for the county over the years.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said at this week’s Board of Supervisor meeting: ” The failure to adequately address the mental health needs of justice-involved youth has had serious consequences for the county over the years.”

The motion introduced by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn calls for the county to come up with a plan to address issues raised by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) in response to a February report from the Office of the Inspector General that found disturbing use of pepper spray and a rise in excessive use-of-force incidents at the county’s juvenile halls.

The board ordered DMH to assess mental health needs in county juvenile justice facilities, opportunities for the county to implement trauma-informed approaches and strategies for reducing the use of force inside those facilities.

According to the April DMH report, more than 90 percent of youth in L.A.’s juvenile halls in 2018 had an open mental health case, an increase of about 25 percent from 2015. About 40 percent of those diagnoses were for disruptive behavior, while another 30 percent were for mood disorders, which includes clinical depression and, in a smaller number of cases, bipolar disorder.

The percentage of incarcerated youth who were prescribed a psychotropic medication jumped from 26 percent in 2018 to 35 percent in early 2019, according to the report.

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Logo OIJJ
  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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