Supervisors call for pepper spray to be phased out at juvenile halls

fILE PHOTO. probation officer.

County supervisors alarmed over a recent report revealing how often kids are being pepper-sprayed when they’re placed in juvenile halls have called for the debilitating spray to be phased out in those facilities.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas to phase out the use of oleoresin capsicum spray, commonly referred to as pepper spray, in county juvenile facilities.

Pepper spray can cause intense eye pain and lead to temporary blindness, burning in the throat, blistering of the skin and an inability to breathe, according to the testimony heard by supervisors.

Research indicates that the use of the spray on young people can also cause psychological harm, and many juvenile justice experts have determined that its use is needlessly punitive and can be counter-productive, Kuehl pointed out in a news release issued by her office Tuesday.

California, she pointed out, is one of only 15 states that continues to permit the use of pepper spray.

In approving the call for phasing out the use of pepper spray, supervisors called for the chief probation officer, county lawyers, the Office of Inspector General, the Department of Mental Health and other county agencies to report back to them in 60 days with a plan for the phased elimination of the use of OC spray in all Los Angeles County camps and halls before the end of calendar year 2019.

The motion also requires the same agencies to come up with a plan suggesting alternatives to pepper spray.

Specifically, they want a plan that considers best practices for options for physical discipline, both short- and long-term, and includes mandatory training for all Probation Department staff working in the halls and camps.

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