Education in Los Angeles: School system or prison system?

Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Arturo Delgado and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in a classroom at the Harris County Youth Village.

Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Arturo Delgado and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in a classroom at the Harris County Youth Village.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Superintendent Arturo Delgado visited classrooms in Houston, Texas’ juvenile detention facilities Thursday (Feb.16) in an ongoing effort to study innovative programs that may be models for reforming education in Los Angeles’ youth camps and halls.

Los Angeles County’s youth probation system is currently being monitored by the U.S. Dept. of Justice due to dangerous conditions in the camps, and the county in 2010 settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging the failure to provide a constitutionally adequate education to youths at the Challenger Camp in Lancaster.  Under the settlement terms, LACOE and the Probation Dept. are now working to improve education at Challenger Camp.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, however, believes schooling in the county’s youth probation facilities is in urgent need of an overhaul. “There are bright spots in our camps due to the above-and-beyond effort of many dedicated Probation and LACOE staffers; but as a whole our system needs to look and act more like a school system than a prison system,” Ridley-Thomas said, “we have a long way to go.”

A math teacher in the Harris County Youth Village uses a multimedia “smart board” to instruct a student preparing for the GED exam.

In Houston, Delgado and Ridley-Thomas visited the Harris County Youth Village, where boys and girls in custody attend classes in a dedicated school building. Along with class sizes typically smaller than ten students, youths in custody are taught using contemporary technology – students use laptop computers in the classrooms and each room features a “smart board” multimedia blackboard.

More than 80% of students who take the GED high school equivalency exam in custody pass the test and move on to a local community college. The Youth Village also uses a computer-guided reading program being studied for use in Los Angeles County. Along with academic innovations, youths in custody participate in a student government that meets weekly to manage their residential life.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas had previously visited the Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings, a revolutionary school program serving Washington, D.C.’s juveniles in custody.

Both the Harris County probation schools and Washington, D.C.’s probation schools teach students using the “Freedom Schools” model developed by the Children’s Defense Fund. Freedom Schools promote reading and self-esteem through an academically rigorous curriculum that also stresses civic engagement and social action. Outside of probation camps, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has brought Freedom Schools summer programs to churches and community centers in the Second District, serving more than 500 students to date.

“The best practices in classrooms outside the locked gates of probation camps need to be brought inside,” Ridley-Thomas said. “A new LACOE superintendent, Arturo Delgado, and a new Chief Probation Officer, Jerry Powers, are on board, and they are eager to make the changes we need to make sure our youths use their time in custody to move ahead as students, not fall behind as prisoners,” he said.

Notice of $10,000 reward offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors


It is always a tragedy when someone in our community is killed. It is even more tragic when the victim is a young person of only 16 years of age and the victim of a senseless shooting.

Earlier this year, on February 27, 2011, Thomas Riley, age 16, was such a victim. Thomas was shot and killed in front of an apartment complex in the 1700 block of West 105th Street, in Los Angeles, near the intersection of 105th and Western Ave.

Thomas Riley was hanging out in front of the apartment complex with friends when they were approached by two male blacks who asked “Where you from?” Such a question should not be a death sentence. Before anyone from the group could answer that they were not affiliated with a gang, one of the males pulled a handgun from his waistband and began firing at them. Thomas Riley was shot five times. Thomas was transported to Harbor – UCLA Medical Center. Thomas died as a result of his gunshot wounds.

Thomas Riley was an upstanding young man of good moral character. Riley was not affiliated with gang members, nor had he ever been in any legal trouble. At the time of his untimely death, he was doing one of his favorite things — working with his friends on his mini-bike. The shock and senseless murder of Riley has left his family devastated.

On August 16, 2011, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, at my request, approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Thomas’ murder.

CBS Outdoor Systems at the urging of Thomas’ father Mr. Anthony Riley, has graciously made available and assisted in printing four billboards requesting the public’s assistance in obtaining any information that may assist with the investigation.

To this date, the billboards have been placed throughout the community near the murder scene. The locations of the billboards are:

  • Western Ave and 98th street, Los Angeles
  • Western Ave and Century Bl, Los Angeles
  • Market Street and Hillcrest Bl, Inglewood
  • Manchester Ave and Denker Ave, Los Angeles

With your help, our community will remain safe and justice will be served.

(Sheriff’s Press Release is available by clicking here.)

Murder of Thomas Riley
Description and Date of Crime: Fatal Shooting of Thomas Riley – 02/27/2011
Location: 1700 block of West 105th St, Los Angeles
Reward Amount: $10,000
Deadline to Submit Claim to Executive Office: 01/13/2012

Notice is hereby given that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles has established a reward in the amount of $10,000 in exchange for information leading to the apprehension and/or conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of 16-year-old Thomas Riley, who was shot and killed on February 27, 2011, in front of a residence located on the 1700 block of West 105th Street in unincorporated Los Angeles. Any person having any information related to this crime is requested to call Detectives McElderry or Acebedo at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 and refer to Report No. 011-81937-0372-011.

The terms of the reward provide that:

  • The information given that leads to the determination of the identity, the apprehension and conviction of any person or persons must be given no later than November 14, 2011. All reward claims must be in writing and shall be received no later than January 13, 2012.
  • The total County payment of any and all rewards shall in no event exceed $10,000 and no claim shall be paid prior to conviction unless the Board of Supervisors makes a finding of impossibility of conviction due to the death or incapacity of the person or persons responsible for the crime or crimes.
  • The County reward may be apportioned between various persons and/or paid for the conviction of various persons as the circumstances fairly dictate.

Any claims for the reward funds should be filed no later than January 13, 2012, with the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors, 500 West Temple Street, Room 383 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Los Angeles, California 90012, Attention: Thomas Riley Reward Fund. For further information, please call (213) 974-1579.

Si no entiende esta noticia o si necesita más informacion, favor de llamar a este numero (213) 974-1579.

Information Courtesy of http://www.laco-rewards.org/thomasriley.htm.  Please check this site for updates.

 

Disaster assistance for those affected by the Los Angeles winds

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California residents and business owners affected by the Los Angeles County High Winds from November 30 through December 4, 2011, announced U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen G. Mills. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster following a December 13 request from Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s designated representative, Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary of California Emergency Management Agency.  The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Los Angeles County and the neighboring counties of Kern, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura.  “The U. S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing Californians with the most effective and customer-focused response possible, and we will be there to provide access to federal disaster loans to help finance recovery for residents and businesses affected by the disaster,” said Mills. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster,” said SBA’s Los Angeles District Director Victor Parker. “Beginning Monday, December 19, SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the following Disaster Loan Outreach Center to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process, and help each individual complete their application,” Parker continued.

The center will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

Los Angeles County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Pasadena Fire Headquarters
(Across from the Hilton Hotel)
199 South Los Robles Avenue, Suite 550 (5th floor)
(Validated underground parking is available)
Pasadena, CA 91101

Opens Monday, December 19 at 1 pm
Open Tuesday, December 20 through Friday, December 23
9 am to 5:30 pm
Re-opens Monday, January 9, 2012 at 9 am
Open Monday, January 9 through Friday, January 20
9 am to 5:30 pm, Mondays through Fridays

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size and aquaculture businesses, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Interest rates can be as low as 2.063 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling SBA at (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is February 17, 2012. The deadline to return economic injury applications is September 19, 2012.

For more information, visit SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov.
Courtesy of SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas appoints the Rev. Dr. Cecil L. Murray to Commission on Jail Violence

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas today announced the appointment of civil rights stalwart Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray to the County’s newly formed Citizens Commission on Jail Violence. The commission, established last month with a joint motion by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, is charged with investigating allegations of abuse at the Men’s Central Jail and returning to the Board of Supervisors with recommendations for reform.  “After the 1992 riots, Reverend Murray, then pastor of First AME Church in South Los Angeles, became the pre-eminent moral force in the local and national conversation about the relationship of minority communities to the law enforcement structure. It is this voice, along with Pastor Murray’s wisdom and experience that he will bring to the commission. My colleagues on the Board have appointed people with laudable experience in the legal system,” the Supervisor said, “and those perspectives will be of great service as we move forward to reform the jail system. To be successful, however, I believe the commission must engage the broader public – not just the law enforcement community – in a moral conversation, and few are as well suited to do this task as Cecil L. Murray.”

During his 27 years as FAME’s pastor, Murray transformed a small congregation of 250 into an 18,000-person church. With multi-million dollar community and economic development programs, Murray brought jobs, housing, and corporate investment into South Los Angeles.

After retiring from FAME in 2004, Murray joined the faculty of USC where he is currently the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion.

Murray did his undergraduate studies at Florida A&M University and after graduation, he joined the United States Air Force. Murray served in the Korean War as a jet radar intercept officer and as a navigator in the Air Transport Command. He retired after 10 years and was decorated with a Soldier’s Medal of Valor. After leaving the Air force, Murray earned a doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology. Although he is now retired from the pastorate, he remains an elder statesman among religious leaders across the nation.

Supervisors act to examine and reform Sheriff’s Department

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors today took strong action to bring greater oversight and accountability to the Sheriff’s Department, unanimously voting to establish a seven-member citizens’ commission to investigate allegations of abuse and corruption.

The commission would be tasked with reviewing the nature, depth and cause of inappropriate uses of force by deputies in the County jails and to return to the Board with recommendations for reforms.

The motion for a commission, sponsored jointly by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, charges the new commission with presenting its findings within 120 days of its first meeting.

In second unanimous vote, the Board also approved on a motion by Supervisor Gloria Molina, to implement existing recommendations by Special Counsel Merrick Bobb and the Office of Independent Review. The recommendations include but are not limited to: the installation of surveillance cameras at the Men’s Central Jail, the Inmate Reception center and the Twin Towers, elimination of steel-toed shoes, a revision of department policy to forbid striking inmates on the head and regular rotation of jail deputies between floors at the Men’s Central Jail and to other facilities at no less than six-month intervals.  The Board also approved an amendment by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to require the Chief Executive Office, the Internal Services Department and County Counsel to work with the Sheriff to facilitate implementation of the existing recommendations.

“These two motions are complementary,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “They are not in conflict and nor are they contradictory. Supervisor Molina’s motion calls for important and necessary steps to be made immediately, but the commission has a broader charge.

“It will not only examine past practices, it will offer the Board a roadmap to use as we move forward with reforms,” the Supervisor said.

Tuesday’s action by the board comes after report released last week by the Sheriff’s Department Office of Independent Review found that a code of silence among deputies has shielded abusive jailers and that those who break that code are subject to harassment by colleagues. The report found that eight deputies failed to report mistreatment of an inmate that was recorded on video. In another case, a deputy who reported wrongdoing received threatening phone calls, the report said.