Youth incarcerated at Los Padrinos briefly escapes after staff assaulted, authorities say

Downey, CA - June 29: Aerial view of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey Thursday, June 29, 2023. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
An aerial view of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A youth incarcerated at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey briefly escaped from the facility Saturday night after "an incident that resulted in staff being assaulted," according to the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

Six youths were involved in the incident that led to the altercation, the department said in a news release. It was not clear whether the youth who fled the detention facility was involved in the assault, but he was captured within 10 minutes by police and probation authorities, who brought him back to the facility.

No other information was provided about the assault or who may have been injured.

The facility remained on lockdown Sunday morning while an investigation was underway, according to the release. Visiting hours were also canceled.

Los Padrinos reopened in July after the probation department transferred about 270 youth, mostly ages 15 to 18, to the facility. The county scrambled to reopen Los Padrinos in May after California’s Board of State and Community Corrections ordered most youths out of two other facilities for incarcerated youth, citing repeated failures to improve conditions.

The facility, which is the most modern of the county’s three juvenile halls, shuttered in 2019 amid abuse allegations and a shrinking population of incarcerated youth in Los Angeles County.

Officials initially touted the reopening as a success. But troubles quickly emerged.

During one facility-wide lockdown, children urinated and defecated on their beds while they were trapped in their rooms for hours without access to bathrooms, The Times reported in August.

Two probation officials who have worked shifts at Los Padrinos told The Times the facility was not prepared to house children, despite receiving approval from the state to open.

Some rooms had malfunctioning doors or toilets, and plumbing issues left other units without hot water. Dead roaches were found in some rooms, the officials said.

There were “no chairs, books, basketballs, trash cans … there wasn’t anything. They just threw us over there. Nothing was set up for these kids,” one of the officials told The Times.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.