Los Angeles Youth Uprising (LAYUP) was formed in early 2016, as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Urban Peach Institute and Youth Justice Coalition began meeting in response to the resignation of Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers. The organizations recognized this as an opportunity to push for systemic change at the highest departmental level, with the hopes of moving LA County away from a system that punishes and incarcerates young people to a model that is committed to healing, restorative/transformative justice and youth development.
Since then, LAYUP has led campaigns to dismantle LA County’s juvenile system and shift resources to youth development. In 2017, LAYUP successfully ended the practice of “voluntary” probation, also known as pre-probation, inside LA County schools. Thousands of young people who had never been cited, arrested, or been to court were placed on a “voluntary” probation program at their schools for reasons such as low grades, low attendance, and school-related behavioral issues. Probation began to phase the practice out in 2017 after heavy pressure from the coalition, which included direct actions and a report exposing the unjust program.
Between 2018 and 2019, the coalition was also deeply involved in the Probation Reform and Implementation Team (PRIT) process in which the coalition’s demands were adopted in the final report, which led to the formation of the nation’s first Probation Oversight Commission with subpoena power and most notably a recommendation to move all youth out of probation into a new system.
In August of 2019, following the guidance of our coalition’s demands, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a motion creating a countywide Youth Justice Workgroup tasked with exploring the possibilities of moving all youth out of probation and into another department. Kent Mendoza (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Patricia Soung (Children’s Defense Fund), and Anthony Robles (Youth Justice Coalition) were selected by the Burns Institute – the youth justice consultant firm that was chosen by the Board to facilitate the process – to help lead the workgroup in designing a new system based on the principles of youth development.