LA County Puts Thousands of Kids on 'Voluntary' Probation for Merely Struggling With School
Date:  06-05-2017

Controversial program raises concerns that it is ineffective and counter-productive to keeping students in school
From Juvenile Justice Information Exchange:

LOS ANGELES — Marbella Munoz was a foster child for most of her life. As is true for many foster children bounced through multiple placements, she was frequently forced to change schools. Despite the repeated changes, Munoz said she managed to keep up her grades. When she was 17, school administrators told her she had been referred to a program called “school-based supervision.” The “supervision” was not provided by a school guidance counselor or a teacher but by a juvenile probation officer.

Munoz didn’t understand. “Although I was an ‘A’ student, I was referred to a probation officer at my high school who told me I would have to be on their caseload because I was changing schools too much,” Munoz said. The girl explained to the officer that the transfers were outside her control. “But I was told I had no option,” she said. Upset that she was on what appeared to be juvenile probation, although she’d done nothing against the law, Munoz at first refused to report to her assigned deputy probation officer. Then she dropped out of high school altogether. (She now attends the Youth Justice Coalition’s FREE L.A. High School.)

Munoz’ story comes from a new report, titled “WIC 236: ‘Pre-Probation’ Supervision of Youth of Color With No Prior Court or Probation Involvement,” that examines and analyzes a controversial youth crime prevention strategy run by the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the nation’s largest juvenile probation system. ( Read the report here. The program, known unofficially as “voluntary probation,” assigns children 10 to 17 considered by the county to be “at risk” to a professional probation officer, with their parent or guardian’s permission.

Like Munoz, the kids referred to voluntary probation have broken no laws and have no history of court or probation system contact Continue reading >>>