'Troubled Young'

I feel compelled to respond to your editorial (Dec. 27), "Troubled Young, Troubled System." I certainly agree that any death of so young a person is tragic. However, I believe that your editorial incorrectly implies that because of the successful suicide, the Probation Department has not done its job properly.

In fact, the Probation Department should be commended for its outstanding performance in this regard. Even the 58 suicide attempts mentioned in the editorial must be considered as successes, since 58 suicides were prevented through vigilant supervision.

The suicide rate over the past two years among the general teen-age population is approximately 12 per 100,000. The recent suicide in Central Juvenile Hall was the first since 1980 (and only the fifth in our history), a time period during which more than 80,000 extremely troubled teen-agers were admitted to our halls.

I know that a thoroughly objective investigation of the care and custody provided in Los Angeles County Juvenile Halls would show what an outstanding job our staff is doing, considering its limited resources, a very volatile population, and less than adequate physical plants.

BARRY J. NIDORF Downey Nidorf is chief probation officer of Los Angeles County.

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