About L.A. County's $3.5 Billion Jail Plan

Who's In Our Jails

Blacks

30%

Latinos

50%

Women of Color

72%

Mentally Ill

30%

Black Males

Latino Males

Women of Color

Mentally Ill

Our Jails and the Mentally Ill

L.A. County has the largest population of mentally ill inmates in the country

Black people represent 43.7% of the county jail population designated with a serious mental health disability.

63% of L.A. County’s jail population would be better served by a community based alternative and without charges or convictions that would block judges or prosecutors from making that happen.

Research shows that people with mental health conditions inevitably get worse in jails. The chances of developing a mental health condition for people with no previous history of mental health issues doubles once they are incarcerated.

Research shows that jail and prison conditions exacerbate drug and alcohol addictions. Both law enforcement investigations and testimony from people who have been locked up in the jails attest to the fact that drugs and homemade alcohol are plentiful inside.

Several epidemics that had been eradicated from L.A. County, or dramatically reduced, have re-emerged in the jail system including; Hepatitis C, Valley Fever, new HIV infections, tuberculosis and staph infections. When people come home they are bringing these infections with them and they spread to Los Angeles communities.

Despite Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s claims that there have been significant improvements in suicide prevention in the jails, rates of self harm have quadrupled over the last five years in the jails.

$3.5 Billion Dollars and Counting

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors Wants to Build Two New Jails

While L.A. County claims it will cost $2.4 billion to construct two new jails, a conservative estimate of the total cost is $3.5 billion with the repayment of bonds but public safety experts say it could accumulate to between $5 and $7 billion. This does not include operational costs, inflation or increases in labor.

L.A. County spends more than $50,000 a year to lock up one person in jail.  This cost increases for people with medical and mental health issues. Only $35 per youth is spent on after school programs, job training and other youth development opportunities. With the time it will take to build these new jails, the generation that will fill them are today’s elementary and preschool children.

Despite the fact that over the last 15 years L.A. County has experienced dramatic drops in crime and now has the lowest crime rates since the 1950s, in the last decade the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s budget has increased by $1 billion. LAPD’s budget has increased by $750 million. The probation department’s budget has increased by more $350 million.

It costs taxpayers $65,000 a year to incarcerate someone with mental health disabilities versus between $20,000 and $25,000 a year for permanent supportive housing in the community.

Between 2009 and 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has reported a 60% increase in its mentally ill population due to cuts in the social safety net.

Half of youth who have aged out of foster care in L.A. County end up homeless or incarcerated.

From the AB 109 local savings, only 23% will be distributed to programs and services that have been proven to reduce recidivism, while 55% will be given to the Sheriff’s Department.

Prop. 47 has lowered California’s daily average jail population by about 8,000 people, supporting JusticeLA’s call for less jail beds–not more

In 2015, litigation for sheriff misconduct cost taxpayers $61 million.

Over one third of settlements for incidents inside the jails were brought by individuals with mental or physical disabilities amounting to over $5 million.

JUSTICELA’S MORATORIUM ON THE JAIL EXPANSION PLAN

It is essential for the Board of Supervisors to implement a moratorium on jail construction and expansion until there is:

An independent review of the significant change in voter priorities;

An independent and thorough review of crime data and root causes, as well as evidence of effective strategies for reducing crime and violence through the reform efforts that are already underway;

A thorough study of the potential impact of the recent influx of resources and reforms will have on the current jail population; and

An investigation into future reforms that will further reduce the jail and other custody populations. This historic moment provides L.A. County with an opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach to public safety and effectively execute already prescribed improvements and reforms to our criminal justice system through the creation of a working group charged with achieving these aims.

JusticeLA wants the Board of Supervisors to:

Adopt a framework and methodology for integrating Measure H, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 resources to complement existing and emerging County efforts to reduce the jail population, reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Determine the projected reductions in future jail population based on current county reform efforts – such as the recently created County Office of Diversion and Re-entry, the establishment of a Probation Oversight Commission, and the youth diversion work group – and create a more accurate assessment of future jail population accordingly;

Establish and apply a methodology to calculate local jail and probation savings from current and projected population reductions and report on projected plans to spend the anticipated state-level justice allocations;

Establish and apply a methodology to ensure appropriate funds are directed toward community-based, owned and operated crime, violence and recidivism prevention programs;

Establish and apply a methodology to ensure transparency and community engagement in determining priorities for spending allocations, including community representation on decision making bodies that ensures inclusion of individuals who have been personally impacted by detention and incarceration through their own or family involvement;

Make a comprehensive assessment of the impact of bail reform, pre-arraignment and pre-trial release on reductions on future L.A. County Jail populations.

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