New Watchdog Approved for L.A.’s Troubled Probation Department

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved the establishment of a new commission to oversee operations at the country’s largest probation department. The independent watchdog, modeled after the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, will have more teeth than the current Probation Commission which has no budget and very little power.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the decision had “been a long time coming.” L.A. County’s probation department has suffered for years from instability, mismanagement, and bad press, and has been under federal monitoring since 2006.

"Currently our commission can barely get our minutes written," acknowledged commission member Jan Levine. "The [Probation Oversight Commission] will be able to make sure that the Probation Department adheres to its plan for reform."

The body will report directly to the Board of Supervisors. Importantly, it will have the power to investigate the department through the Office of the Inspector General.

Journalist Celeste Fremon has called the body’s creation a “historic” development. For more on Tuesday’s vote and how the commission’s establishment will unfold, click here


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