JusticeLA Statement on L.A. County’s Horrific Conditions at Inmate Reception Center

Janet Asante, (310) 722-1474

ACLU Sounds Alarm on L.A. County’s Horrific Conditions at Inmate Reception Center

For decades the community has voiced outrage at the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s (LASD) continued negligence and cruelty in the L.A. County jail system. What were already abhorrent conditions have now become torturous camps for abuse and inhumanity, and that is made apparent by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Southern California’s court filing today. JusticeLA is calling on the County Board of Supervisors to recognize that this horrifying reality is a direct result of the Board’s inaction to close Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) and fund supportive pathways out of jail. 

The ACLU’s filing named a litany of human rights violations including people with serious mental illness being chained to chairs for days at a time, sleeping sitting up, dozens of people crammed together sleeping head-to-foot on the hard concrete floor, and people defecating in trash cans and urinating on the floor or in empty food containers in shared spaces. The filing underlines the County’s failures to provide adequate health care, including failure to provide people with serious mental illness or chronic medical conditions their medications, or to provide care to people dangerously detoxing from drugs and alcohol. JusticeLA continues our demand for the County to fund at least 3600 mental health beds that will bring our most vulnerable community members out of jail and into adequate care. 

Lives are on the line. In-custody deaths at the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saw a dramatic rise to 55 deaths in 2021 — the highest when compared to every year since 2013. Two people have already died at the Inmate Reception Center this year. 

Helen Jones, Community Organizer with Dignity and Power NOW and JusticeLA says, “MCJ should have been closed over 30 years ago. Many families no longer see this as a jail but see MCJ as a memorial for our children, our family members, and our community members whose lives have been stolen inside this cement slave ship. We have to have vigils on the streets even though our children and families have died inside.” 

James Nelson, Campaign and Organizing Manager at Dignity & Power NOW recalls, “I was inside of MCJ in 1984 and the living conditions and medical care were horrible then, and are now far worse. I am in total support of the closure of Men’s Central Jail with no new jails in its place.” 

 Lex Stepping, National Director of Campaigns and Organizing at Dignity & Power NOW states, “The Board of Supervisors has known of this crisis for years. They agreed to close MCJ with no new jails a long time ago. People are dying at a record rate. It’s a humanitarian crisis happening on their watch and no jail can fix it. We all remember the promise of twin towers and all we got was another death trap and torture chamber. Honor the agreements and close MCJ while investing in the Care First vision. Crime goes down when jails are closed. The Board knows this and we know this. Close MCJ.” 


About the JusticeLA Coalition:

JusticeLA is a partnership of grassroots organizations, advocates, directly impacted communities, and stakeholders to reduce the footprint of incarceration by stopping jail expansion and reclaiming, reimagining and reinvesting dollars away from incarceration and into community-based systems of care.