Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement after the Board of Supervisors adopted the FY 2020-2021 budget:

“While in the midst of a global pandemic, thousands of people from throughout Los Angeles County risked their health to take to the streets to amplify a unified message: Black Lives Matter. These past few months have made clear that we need to address racial and ethnic disparities that have existed for far too long. Our collective struggle for justice and equity has brought us to this point. We know that maintaining the status quo is unacceptable. Institutional racism permeates every level of our society, and this plays out every day in our Black and brown communities, where inadequate investments have limited their ability to access the essential services and programs they need to survive and thrive in life. Decades of underinvestment are also partly responsible for the high COVID-19 case rates in communities of color such as the East and Southeast Los Angeles areas.

“To date, we have made some progress in our collective struggle for equity, but we know we need to do so much more. We are in this marathon together, and we will see this through to the finish line. Our accomplishments came in different forms; some advanced humane reforms and others challenged an unjust system of mass incarceration that disproportionately impacts our Black and brown communities. For instance, the recommendations presented in March by the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) workgroup lay out a clear and decisive roadmap for the County. The ATI’s 114 recommendations ensure that the County is a leader in prevention, diversion and rehabilitation, rather than punishment and incarceration. This roadmap offers us bold approaches in addressing the rising mental health needs of those in our County jails. We embrace a “care first, jails last” model because we will walk the talk. We are committed to treating people humanely and with respect. LA County will not stigmatize or marginalize individuals who lack access to community-based treatments that will help them deal with substance abuse, and other related concerns.

“My vision of justice and equity also includes the closure of the Men’s Central Jail, the expansion of a network of community-based treatment centers, and the continued development of the Restorative Care Village at LAC+USC. I understand that belt-tightening must be done, but now is exactly the right time to be bold and invest in projects that will directly benefit our most vulnerable communities. We cannot put this off as something that we’d like to have, but only when the County has extra funds. It must be a priority.

“Only a few months ago, the County had estimated an increase of approximately $400 million for the upcoming fiscal year. Today, we face a deficit of $935.3 million due to COVID-19 upending our lives and livelihoods. This is not the first time the County has faced a looming deficit. It will not be easy, but we will endure as we have in the past. We must not lose sight of our momentum: Now is the time to courageously step up to end systemic inequities head-on, and LA County will rise to this challenge.”

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov