Nearly $80 Million Sits Unspent at Los Angeles County Probation

Los Angeles County supervisors are expected Tuesday to ask to expedite an audit to find out why $80 million has gone unspent at the Probation Department that should go toward at-risk youth.

"It is unacceptable that nonprofits dedicated to supporting youth are underfunded while millions of dollars meant for them are going unused," said County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who's sponsoring a new motion that will be presented at a supervisors board meeting. "We need immediate clarity on these funds and a plan to get them out into the community as quickly as possible."

The motion says the committee, run by the Probation Department that oversees the funds, updated a plan to make major changes just last week. But the budget presented was inconsistent with the plan and some of the programs and services may be outdated.

Supervisors are asking for more to be done to show how the county spends nearly $30 million a year.

The Probation Department is already under scrutiny for a spike in pepper spray use at juvenile halls and camps. That has led to an inspector general report and a vote by supervisors to ban pepper spray in the lockups by year's end.

The probation department, in a statement, said "...$47.5M of the programs approved by the JJCC [Juvenile Justice Coordination Council] in prior fiscal years, are estimated to be expended this fiscal year..."

Much of the unspent funds are expected to go to nonprofit community based organizations.

Supervisors recognize there are challenges with how contracts and some of these programs are created. But they say the fact that the county is not spending the money is unacceptable.

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