A riot broke out at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, California, sparking a tense and chaotic situation as authorities struggled to regain control. The incident occurred in the wake of mounting concerns about the conditions and safety within the facility, which had recently been reopened to accommodate hundreds of incarcerated youths from other troubled juvenile halls in Los Angeles County.
The riot began on July 25, 2023, during a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting that was temporarily halted due to the presence of protesters demanding the immediate shutdown of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. The demonstrators, comprising various groups and activists, voiced their discontent with the treatment of youth inside the facility and the lack of adequate measures taken by the authorities to address the deteriorating conditions.
The Youth Justice Coalition, represented by organizing director Tauheedah Shakur, expressed frustration with the county’s failure to heed their demands for the closure of juvenile halls while conditions persisted to worsen. The protest was described as a culmination of sustained efforts to bring attention to the plight of incarcerated youth and the need for significant reforms.
Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, located in Downey, had been reopened only a few weeks prior to the riot after the closure of other troubled juvenile halls in Boyle Heights and Sylmar. The move to reopen Los Padrinos was ordered by a state oversight board due to staffing crises, escalating violence, and the tragic overdose death of an 18-year-old detainee, Bryan Diaz. Despite efforts to quickly transfer youths to the new facility, early reports indicated that Los Padrinos faced similar issues and challenges as its predecessors.
Among the problems observed at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall were the recent discovery of a gun on the premises, leading to concerns about security protocols and the safety of detainees. The County Probation Department clarified that the firearm was found in an area accessible only to staff, and no youths had access to it, nor were any injuries reported. However, anonymous sources cited by the LA Times contradicted this statement, claiming the gun was in a location accessible to the detained youth.
As a result of the riot and ongoing issues at the facility, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall was placed on lockdown, and local law enforcement began investigations into the incident. The lockdown not only complicated the efforts to address the riot but also raised further questions about the facility’s ability to ensure the safety and well-being of incarcerated youth.
County leaders had previously hailed the reopening of Los Padrinos as a fresh start for the Probation Department, but recent events highlighted that significant challenges persisted in the new facility. Advocates, concerned family members, and community members have emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to prioritize the rehabilitation and welfare of the detained youths.
As authorities work to regain control of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and address the underlying issues that led to the riot, the incident has drawn increased scrutiny to the conditions of juvenile detention facilities and the broader juvenile justice system in Los Angeles County. The situation demands a comprehensive and urgent response to ensure the safety, welfare, and proper rehabilitation of the incarcerated youth in the county’s care.