July 17, 2014
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (District 2) announced his support for Chief Jim McDonnell for LA County Sheriff.
“Chief Jim McDonnell has the integrity and foresight to lead the Sheriff’s Department into a new era of transparency and success,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Throughout his years of public service, he has shown that he is not just tough on crime, but smart on crime, with the insights to recognize the value of investing in prevention and crime reduction strategies that keep our community safe and also help promote more positive outcomes for those at risk of entry into the justice system. I look forward to working with Chief McDonnell to ensure we are providing community-based treatment options instead of incarceration for those who suffer from mental illness and could benefit from these services.”
At the press conference, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Chief McDonnell were joined by more than a dozen local South LA community leaders and ministers, including Pastor Xavier Thompson, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference.
Pastor Thompson said, “Chief McDonnell understands the balance that the Sheriff’s Department must have within our communities, protecting the rights of our residents while ensuring the safety of our families. There is no question that Chief McDonnell is the right person for this job.”
Chief McDonnell has now received the support of all five current supervisors, Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, as well as Supervisor-Elect Hilda Solis and a host of other elected officials, law enforcement professionals and community leaders from all sides of the political spectrum.
In response to the endorsement, Chief McDonnell said, “I’m proud to have the support of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, a highly regarded County leader who is deeply committed to transparency and accountability in the Sheriff’s Department and a tremendous advocate for community engagement. I look forward to working together to find ways that we can protect our neighborhoods and help our children and families thrive.”
Chief McDonnell has served as Chief of the Long Beach Police Department since 2010 and previously served as the second in command in the Los Angeles Police Department. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence to “initiate and carry out a community-level review of alleged inappropriate use of force by deputies assigned to the jails.” Chief McDonnell is been a vocal supporter of developing diversion programs to help provide support for the mentally ill in the justice system, believing there are some inmates who would be better served by community-based treatment options that can address the underlying problems, while still maintaining community safety.
July 10, 2014
By Michael McGee
Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner
“The most disadvantaged, troubled students in the South and the nation attend schools in the juvenile justice systems,” the 2014 report from the Southern Education Foundation begins. The document, Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems raises a number of questions: If so many children with educational needs are segregated or incarcerated, what will become of them and the society they will enter once they age out of the system? Are their needs being met? What can be improved?
Data within the report suggests that the current condition the juvenile justice system is in creates the potential for lifelong disadvantage for many youth who are a part of the system. Dr. Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation, is concerned by what he saw in the report.
“The first thing I think we need to remember is that we’re talking about kids, not adults,” he said. “Kids need help and support as they grow up, as they develop, and they’re entitled to and deserve opportunities to learn through education so that they can participate fully in the economy and the democracy.” The president noted that all children have such needs, be they in an off-campus alternative school, a boot camp or high school in a suburban community.
“So we’re talking about school,” McGuire said. “The good news is that they’re set up to do education. The bad news is, from our look in, is that the education function, we think, gets short shrift.” He said if education was understood to be a primary focus to juvenile justice the dividends would be greater in the future.
“In terms of lower recidivism rates, high school graduation rates and smoother transitions into post-secondary opportunities and the world of work,” McGuire stated. “So there’s just lots of reasons, before we even get to the cost associated with the population of that system, lots of reasons to get the education piece right.”
The report from 2010 suggests that there were 70,000 young people across the U.S. detained within the system on any given day. About one-third of those kids were found in 15 states of the Southern U.S. McGuire reflected upon how those numbers got to be so high.
“Most things we come to worry about don’t happen overnight, which means that they’re long, slow, developing trends which take a trained eye to see,” he admitted. To some extent, he praised aspects of the No Child Left Behind legislation for identifying problem areas for many school-aged children.
“On the other hand, [there’s] this preoccupation with accountability to the absence of what I’ll call capacity-building,” McGuire criticized. “It’s one thing to hold adults accountable; it’s another to actually help them get better results. We’ve done a lot of one. We haven’t done very much of the other.”
Many kids within the system have learning disabilities, behavioral and emotional problems, and are behind in their education to begin with, the SEF report cites. The report also notes that, of the total number of youth detained in 2010, almost two-thirds “did not involve any wrongdoing directly against another person.” Most kids in the system were there not due to violence, but because of property damage, drug issues, or they “had been unruly, incurred technical violations, or had committed a status offense,” the SEF said.