Lockdown lifted at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey after riot

Aerial view of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.
A lockdown was lifted Saturday night after a riot was quelled at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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Officials lifted a lockdown at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey on Saturday night, less than a day after 13 detainees assaulted guards, breached their units and attempted to escape by scaling the perimeter walls.

The 66-year-old Los Angeles County facility is now operating on a limited basis, allowing for the movement of youth for meals, schooling and recreational activities, according to Interim Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa.

Visiting hours were canceled Saturday, after the disturbance began about 8 p.m. Friday.

Viera Rosa said he will ask the county to speed up hiring of safety and security specialists, a new job classification that will allow the probation department to hire off-duty or retired peace officers for external security purposes.


“The safe operations of Los Padrinos ultimately comes down to having the appropriate level of officers and staff on every shift, day in and day out,” Viera Rosa said in a statement. “This new classification will help us reach that level by using trained and experienced peace officers in support of our Probation staff. This will allow us to increase our overall staffing so that we can provide the programming that our youth deserve.”

A riot that broke out Friday night led to the injury of several staff members after some of the detainees breached their units and attempted to escape.

July 29, 2023

The incident began when seven youths assaulted staff with pieces of broken furniture and opened an exterior door of their living unit on Friday. night, sources told The Times. Then they broke the window of an adjacent unit, allowing six others to join them on the grounds.

Officials managed to quell the disturbance several hours later with assistance from law enforcement officers — many of them in riot gear — and emergency responders from across the region. A sheriff’s helicopter provided aerial support.

One of the youths managed to climb over the wall during the disturbance, Viera Rosa said, but was apprehended in an adjacent golf course a short time later by the county probation department’s special enforcement operations team.

Because he is 18, officials said, authorities have asked the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to book him as an adult, officials said.

The other 12 youths were placed in individual rooms at Los Padrinos under one-on-one supervision, officials said. No serious injuries to youth or staff were reported, and all 273 youths held at the facility were accounted for.


Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall had closed in 2019, two months after prosecutors charged six officers who worked there with assault for dousing teenage girls with pepper spray.

This month, the Probation Department moved about 270 juveniles held in Central Juvenile Hall in downtown Los Angeles and Barry J. Nidorf Hall in Sylmar to Los Padrinos, as the troubled agency tries to right itself after years of disarray.

Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.