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Abby Sewell
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My latest piece, up on Refugees Deeply, explores the educational system for refugees in Lebanon through the experiences of one particular family.

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My latest out of Lebanon, on one set of foreign aid programs that may get the ax under Trump.

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In November 2014, Los Angeles County Counsel Mark Saladino signed off on a memo giving the go-ahead for Supervisor Don Knabe to collect more than $100,000 in vacation pay when he retires at the end of this year.

Seven months later, the other supervisors consulted a second attorney who concluded that Knabe was not entitled to the payout.

Within days, Saladino abruptly resigned from the top attorney position and moved to a lower-ranking position in the office of treasurer and tax collector, which he had headed up before being appointed county counsel in 2014.

The vacation pay memo is part of a political drama unfolding at the county Hall of Administration that includes two lawsuits filed by Saladino against his former clients, the county and the Board of Supervisors.

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Even as officials talk about expanding diversion programs and as overall inmate populations are shrinking, the number of mentally ill people in state prisons and jails is growing. Here's the story of Reginald Murray, one man in the system.

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Mental health competency cases are on the rise in L.A. County, and officials are scratching their heads as to why. Competency cases in the Los Angeles mental health court increased by nearly 50% from 2014 to last year. Between 2010 and 2015, the annual total ballooned from 944 to 3,528. Some chalk it up to greater awareness of mental illness, others to cutbacks in mental health services over the years and rising homelessness. Whatever the reason, the increase is testing the court's resources and causing some defendants to spend more time in jail.

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Despite spotty implementation, researchers found promise in a Los Angeles County program that used risk assessment in an attempt to prevent foster kids from crossing over to the juvenile justice system.

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A lot of times when I write about mental health care, it's about systems that are broken. Here's a story about a hopeful development, for a change.

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When I first learned of the case of Jesse Opela, a 17-year-old kid in the Los Angeles County Probation foster care system, he appeared to be on track to get adopted -- an exceedingly rare outcome for probation foster youth. That didn't work out. What emerged over the next few months was a much more complicated story.

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My story in today's LAT on the bottlenecks in emergency psychiatric care that leave patients and the cops who transport them waiting -- and waiting -- and waiting outside of county hospitals' psychiatric wards.

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LA County supervisors will probably be voting shortly to end the 287(g) immigration enforcement program in the county jails. Here's a look at the political dynamics behind the decision.
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