LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved her motion on a comprehensive review and audit of the Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) and understanding the needs of people who are incarcerated in County jails:

“While we are recovering from the pandemic, Los Angeles County is also reviewing its status quo infrastructure and systems, in our embrace of a “care first” approach, to better serve our hardest hit communities, that are disproportionately communities of color,” shared Chair Solis. “This motion is a next step in how the County can help provide no cost phone calls and end commissary mark ups to relieve families at a time when financial assets are strained; in addition to strengthening oversight of how the profits and revenues have been used.”

For decades, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has, by marking up costs of phone calls and commissary items, placed a significant fiscal burden on families of
incarcerated people attempting to support their loved ones’ ability to communicate and supplement meals they receive in the jails. Annually, the IWF, where these profits are collected and contained, accrues about $15 million dollars, of which 49% is used for jail maintenance and 51% for programming (percentages of disbursement set by the Sheriff) for people who are incarcerated.

The motion approved today directs the Auditor-Controller to perform a programmatic audit of the IWF that should include: an accounting of all programs funded by the IWF over the last three completed fiscal years; an analysis of current programs funded by the IWF to determine if the programs are effective in achieving their goals of servicing the incarcerated population; and an evaluation of the Sheriff’s Department’s and the Inmate Welfare Commission’s process for identifying, proposing, and approving new programs that are funded by the IWF. The motion also directs the Sybil Brand Commission, in collaboration with the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, to conduct a survey of individuals who are incarcerated in County jails on the type of programming and services they want and need while incarcerated and in preparation for release and reentry.

To view the full motion, click here.