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L.A. Probation Reforms Urged By Mark Ridley-Thomas

Following a report in the Los Angeles Times outlining cases where 11 county probation officers have been convicted or disciplined for inappropriate contact with juveniles under their supervision, a county supervisor said Tuesday he wants to expand the probation department's internal affairs staff to investigate just such kinds of matters.

"Many reforms are necessary to bring the Probation Department in line with standards worthy of a developed society," stated county supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. His proposed changes, including an increase in investigative staffing, "can help restore credibility to the department," he said.

A Times review of court documents and other records found that one female probation officer had sex with three youths on probation. Another officer directed five teens in her care to beat a fellow probationer. And one officer received two years probation after beating a youth in juvenile hall.

Ridley-Thomas said that part of the problem at the department is that "allegations of abuse can take nearly a year to resolve" because of its small investigative staff of eight, which is charged with looking into hundreds of allegations.

He said he will ask the county Board of Supervisors to consider expanding the Internal Affairs staff. Ridley-Thomas also said he would introduce measures that would make the probation department more accountable.

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