LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and Supervisor Janice Hahn on developing mental health care facilities to help depopulate Men’s Central Jail.
“We know mixing law enforcement and mental health in jail leads to unnecessary uses of force, trauma, and harm. Jail should never be the only option. Jail should never be the default. Care must be. This motion gives our most vulnerable and their families hope, not fear,” said Supervisor Solis.
The County has recognized that to safely close Men’s Central Jail, reduce harm and trauma caused by the jails, and comply with lawsuits and consent decrees, it will need to reduce the overall jail population. More specifically, it will need to reduce the ever-increasing population of incarcerated people who have varying levels of need for mental health and often co-occurring substance use disorder.
“The status quo that allows thousands of people with debilitating mental illness to languish in our jails is unacceptable. We need to establish secure, non-correctional mental health facilities so that we can divert people out of our jails and into more therapeutic environments where they can get the treatment and the help they need,” said Supervisor Hahn.
To truly meet this vulnerable population’s needs for “care first and jails last,” the County will need to develop (via lease, contract, purchase, and/or construction) at least one and potentially more mental health care facilities, located throughout Los Angeles County. This will include facilities providing secured, non-correctional mental health care, as well as building out the continuum of behavioral health residential care to include non-locked community facilities for individuals to step down to as their behavioral health needs are stabilized, and they pose no danger to themselves or the community.
The motion asks for the development of a set of recommendations regarding the composition and number of secured, non-correctional mental health care facility beds needed to safely and appropriately transition from jail custody to those incarcerated at the P3 and P4 levels of care (individuals with severe mental illness and complex legal cases), as well as identify potential and available revenue sources.
The motion is specific in outlining that a holistic plan be created. One in which these facilities will be run by clinicians and not law enforcement.
Read today’s full motion here.