A Los Angeles Superior Court judge toured the juvenile section of the Long Beach Jail Tuesday in an effort to determine if he should immediately order a halt to some of the city's detention practices.
Judge Warren Deering may rule as early as Friday on a request by two public-interest law groups that the city stop a number of practices used with jailed juveniles until a trial can be held.
The groups, the Public Justice Foundation of Santa Monica and the Youth Law Center of San Francisco, want Deering to order the city to stop locking up in the jail abused and neglected children as well as so-called status offenders such as runaways and curfew violators.
The groups also want the city to stop allowing contact between youths that are confined to the jail and adult prisoners.
City legal officials maintain such contact occurs infrequently and is incidental. They also say the request to prevent officials from confining abused and neglected children and status offenders is a decision that should be made during a trial, when witnesses against the city can be questioned. The Public Justice Foundation and the Youth Law Center filed a lawsuit against Long Beach in May, 1985. The matter is not expected to go to trial until late 1986.