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As federal review ends, 2 L.A. supervisors want probation agency audit

Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Antonovich seek wide-ranging audit of county's probation department

As Los Angeles County’s probation department emerges from years of federal monitoring because of conditions in its juvenile lockups, a county supervisor called for a far-ranging audit of other potential issues in the department.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently ended six years of special oversight of the county's 19 probation camps after a monitoring team found that officials had made the required reforms to improve conditions for young offenders and prevent abuses.

Probation chief Jerry Powers and some other county officials hailed the development as a major accomplishment for a department that had at one point been facing federal takeover.

But the department administration still has critics, including the probation officers’ union, which has sparred with Powers repeatedly since he took over as head of the agency in late 2011. The union has complained about staffing levels, promotion standards, background screening standards and other issues. 

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas -- who has received heavy backing from labor -- called Tuesday for an audit of the probation department, saying it is "important to continuously assess the Department’s budget, operations, administration of state and federal grants and programs, and the methodologies for allocating resources given the ongoing changes in juvenile justice."

The audit would examine recruitment, examination, hiring and promotional practices, vacancies and staffing ratios at the juvenile facilities, operating costs, the department’s administration of grant funds and contracting procedures.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich joined Ridley-Thomas in calling for the audit. The supervisors will vote on the proposal next week.

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella for more county news.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

1:28 p.m.: This post has been updated with news of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich joining Mark Ridley-Thomas in calling for an audit.

The first version of this post was published at 12:49 p.m.

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