Promoting Transparency and Accountability

Creating a data-driven juvenile justice system in LA County

There is currently little data available on the experiences and outcomes of the nearly 15,000 children under LA County’s Probation Department’s care. Many departments in the county have antiquated data systems and insufficient resources dedicated toward data collection and evaluation. Additionally, different agencies — including Probation, Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), and Department of Mental Health — are charged with collecting and tracking different pieces of information, fragmenting data collection and tracking efforts. As a result, limited information is consistently collected, aggregated and analyzed on probation youth experiences, and even less is shared publicly.

CDF-CA is working with researchers from University of Southern California, University of California - Los Angeles, the Advancement Project, and the LA County Probation Department to study how youth and their families fare before, during, and after their contact with the probation system. The project is designed to help Los Angeles County better understand the experience of youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system and to recommend needed improvements in data collection and tracking, as well as identify opportunities for prevention, early intervention, and rehabilitation. The recently released report included findings and recommendations centered on the need for a more integrated approach to juvenile justice, including in data systems and data sharing, to ensure we are effectively serving youth and preventing them from ever being incarcerated or from recidivating.

Pushing for state leadership and accountability from the Board of State and Community Corrections

The Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) was created in 2012 as a stand-alone agency with a mission to promote public safety throughout state-local partnerships, through technical assistance, grant-making and oversight. The agency administers federal and state grants to counties, develops state regulations for county facilities and law enforcement staff, and collects data on a variety of key points. The BSCC is the most influential state agency focused on juvenile justice.

Despite this enormous responsibility, the BSCC remains relatively unknown by both justice stakeholders and the general public. Moreover, the agency has struggled with fulfilling its juvenile justice mandate — it currently focuses largely on adult issues – as well as effectively implementing some of its responsibilities, as detailed by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO, 2013) and the California State Auditor (CSA, 2012).

CDF-CA is partnering with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), as well as a growing collaboration of other advocates and community groups, to monitor the activities of the BSCC, promote accountability and transparency in its decision-making, ensure meaningful community input into policies and practices of the agency, and increase the leadership of the agency on juvenile justice issues.