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December 16, 2010
Deborah Dorman, Disability Rights California
Laura Faer, Public Counsel
Directing Attorney- Children's Rights
LOS ANGELES, CA – On December 14, 2010, after an investigation showed that youth with disabilities are often in danger while housed in juvenile hall and that youth with developmental disabilities were detained 6 to18 months longer than others because of the lack of available community placements, a settlement with Los Angeles County has been reached that will launch critical reforms. The investigation was carried out by Disability Rights California, Public Counsel, Disability Rights Legal Center, Hunton & Williams, and Traber & Voorhees because of serious problems that had been reported to the advocacy groups.
Lead plaintiff, I. T., who has since moved to a community placement, was pleased to learn about the settlement agreement and said, "I hope the kids have a better life…”
“These vulnerable youth were inappropriately housed within the general juvenile population and did not receive the supports and services to protect them from harm,” said Deborah Dorfman, Registered Legal Services Attorney from Disability Rights California (DRC). “We believe this settlement will not only improve the care and protection for youth with developmental disabilities in juvenile hall, but will also reduce recidivism by creating more appropriate placements in the community.”
Laura Faer, Directing Attorney for Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project, also praised the reform efforts. “After we notified them of these violations, the Probation Department and its counsel stepped up and worked diligently with us to craft the needed reforms. We have every hope that Los Angeles County will soon have a model program for identification, assessment, and habilitative services for children with developmental disabilities.”
Ann Marie Mortimer, Managing Partner of Hunton & Williams Los Angeles Office noted, "We are proud to be part of this important cooperative effort to achieve critical structural reforms for at risk children with developmental disabilities in the probation system."
As part of the settlement, the Probation Department is working with a nationally renowned expert to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to remedy these problems. DRC and Public Counsel will monitor the implementation of the settlement for the next three years.
For further information, check our websites: www.disabilityrightsca.org and www.publiccounsel.org
Disability Rights California, founded in 1978, positively impacts at least 50,000 Californians a year through its advocacy, lawsuits, investigations and trainings (www.disabilityrightsca.org)
Public Counsel is the largest pro bono public interest law firm in the world. Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is dedicated to advancing equal justice under law by delivering free legal and social services to the most vulnerable members of our community, including abused and abandoned children, homeless families and veterans, senior citizens, victims of consumer fraud and nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities. (www.publiccounsel.org)
With 18 offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia and nearly 900 attorneys, Hunton & Williams LLP is a leading international law firm that provides comprehensive legal services to clients across all major industries, but remains steadfast in its 100 year commitment to service, community and pro bono.