LOS ANGELES – Today, LA County’s report exploring how the County might close Men’s Central Jail was released. The report, developed by a workgroup led by the County’s Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) and the LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in partnership with community and County stakeholders, indicates that building out the community-based system of care is the most fundamental prerequisite to closing Men’s Central Jail.
Men’s Central Jail was built more than five decades ago and has consistently been ranked among the ten worst facilities in the country. It is widely regarded as unsafe, overcrowded, outdated and not conducive for rehabilitative programming and services.
The report is the first of five reports to be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors (Board) in the next two months that will inform the County’s Care First, Jail Last efforts to build out a more just LA County. Additional reports include analysis and recommendations from the Gender Responsive Advisory Committee to improve care for women and gender non-conforming individuals; the Jail Population Review Council, that is assessing jail population and release data to identify successful strategies; a cost savings analysis and population projection from the JFA Institute; recommendations for year one spending from the Measure J Advisory Group; and an update from the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Initiative on its diversion work.
“I am incredibly thankful to the dedicated workgroup for their efforts in preparing the MCJ Closure report that will serve as a starting point in the development of an implementation plan that will not only help us close Men’s Central Jail but examine all the structures that play a role in the systemic incarceration of people of color in LA County,” said Chair Solis. “With this report and pending reports, the County will be able to piece together all of the recommendations and strategies to create policies, programs, and services to limit the flow of people entering into the criminal justice system; divert those who are currently in our systems and place them in a robust and comprehensive system of care; and lastly, continue building the much needed infrastructure to support individuals who are incarcerated upon release. Our goal at this time is to review, assess, and align the data, information, and recommendations to guide us to implement a holistic plan that will address the core, systemic issues that lead to mass incarceration including a lack of mental care and health services, housing, job stability, and other public services. This is a process that will continue to unfold over the next couple of months as we await additional reports that will provide key information in these efforts.”
“I am very eager to take this analysis, and the analyses in the forthcoming reports to develop a thoughtful, deliberate blueprint for the County’s Care First, Jail Last approach,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We have embarked on an ambitious, long-term, systemic transformation and these reports will help inform our efforts to improve community health and safety, end the needless incarceration of people with untreated mental health and substance use disorders, and reduce longstanding racial inequity in our justice system.”
Our anticipated next steps are:
- Introduce a motion to form an Implementation Team tasked with reviewing all the data, recommendations, and analyses from the relevant reports, and develop a deliberate, thoughtful plan to build out the much-needed system of care in LA County and to take actionable steps to close MCJ.
- Introduce a motion to create a “Care First, Jail Last” set-aside fund to cover expenses associated with the demolition of MCJ, renovations and modifications to other existing custody facilities, and ATI expansion, drawing on County resources previously allocated to a now-cancelled mental health treatment facility and a women’s jail.
- Explore the use of one-time federal funds through the American Rescue Plan to reserve $237 million to invest in building a holistic, community-based system of care. Funds would be invested in capital costs and to provide initial seed money to stand up more than 3,000 needed community care beds, and fund the expansion of programs within the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative that are focused on preventing further incarceration that could potentially delay efforts to close Men’s Central Jail.
First District Contact: Kimberly Ortega, Acting Communications Director, (213) 361-6435 or KOrtega@bos.lacounty.gov
Third District Contact: Barbara Osborn, Communications Director, (323) 683-1160 or email@example.com