La County will bring Music Education to troubled Youth Detention Facilities
L.A. County will bring more arts and educational programming to its troubled juvenile detention facilities in the form of a drum corp program.
Today, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a $500,000 contract with the Inner City Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (ICYOLA) to bring their music program to Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar “and at other facilities where youth are housed.”
The motion, authored by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Lindsey Horvath, cites feedback from incarcerated youth who requested more music and arts programming.
David Carroll, director of the county’s Department of Youth Development, said his department has been working for months now on a number of initiatives to bring more programming to juvenile halls. Those initiatives have now been accelerated with the increased urgency to remedy the dire situation in youth detention facilities.
Carroll said the drum corp program was not a “magic bullet,” but he hopes it will lead to more programming opening up for incarcerated youths.
“Part of our charge is just to bring down the general tension… especially within Barry J. Nidorf and we believe that that musical therapy… is something that can definitely help lead to just a calming of the environment,” Carroll told LAist.
The troubled facilities at Nidorf and Central Juvenile Hall in Lincoln Heights have been at the center of criticism from youth justice reform advocates and state regulators alike.
Last month, a state board declared both Nidorf and Central “unsuitable.” A report from the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) states that Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights continue to be noncompliant on regular searches, programming, safety checks and several other requirements.
The county will have until the end of July to transfer roughly 275 youth from the two facilities to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, which shut down in 2019 due to security, staffing and other issues. However, dozens of young people will remain at what’s called a Secure Youth Treatment Facility on the Nidorf grounds, which the BSCC does not currently have jurisdiction over.
Several people who offered public comment at a BSCC hearing last month described languishing at Nidorf, sitting for hours a day in common rooms with nothing but television for programming.
If Tuesday’s motion gets approved, the ICYOLA drum corp program will include intensive two-day per week training for 30 weeks and instruction on music theory and drum corp instruments.
Founded in 2009, ICYOLA provides music education to underserved youth in L.A. and has received grants from the Probation Department in the past, including its South Los Angeles Music Project.