L.A. County’s Bail Reform Proposal Lacks Actual Reform

L.A. County’s Bail Reform Proposal Lacks Actual Reform

JusticeLA releases detailed report on Bail Reform Motion

LOS ANGELES, CA –  – JusticeLA, a grassroots coalition of organizations fighting the $3.5 billion expansion to L.A. County’s jail system, today released a critical report describing in detail a continued institutional commitment by the County of Los Angeles to attempt to triage a flawed money bail system rather than address the  profound structural inequalities of the current pretrial system including the racial and economic disparities in the criminal justice system. Authored by Ivette Alé, Statewide Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) and Lex Steppling, Lead National Organizer for JustLeadershipUSA , the report is in response to the L.A. County Office of County Counsel’s report commissioned by the Board of Supervisors regarding their 2017 Bail Reform motion authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis.

A recent study by UCLA’s Million Dollar Hoods Project reveals that $19.4 billion of money bail was levied on persons arrested by the LAPD between 2012 and 2016. Of the $198.8 million paid in nonrefundable bail bond deposits to bail bond agents, Latinos paid $92.1 million, African Americans paid $40.7 million, and Whites paid $37.9 million. But most money bail was never paid, leaving 223,366 people in LAPD custody before arraignment during that four year span.

The study also found that Black and Latinx women disproportionately paid the nonrefundable bail bond deposits. Pretrial incarceration compromises the public safety of everyone and shifts the financial burden to vulnerable communities, but the answer is not an expansion of community surveillance. We will not accept a bail system or “reform” that continues to devastate lives while furthering home jailing through restrictive pretrial release conditions.

Grassroots efforts to overhaul bail systems and reduce the number of people who are incarcerated exist from coast to coast and have facilitated a moment of inevitable change. It forces us to ask the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles County Counsel–the Board of Supervisors legal advocates and advisers–what are the real goals of the “bail reforms” on the table?

Pseudo reforms like the use of algorithm-based risk assessment tools, electronic monitoring, and onerous systems-driven pretrial release conditions cannot replace a money bail system – because they are, in fact, an extension of it. These “reforms” made under the guise of equity, fairness, and efficiency, would only further entrench a pretrial system intent on the criminalization of low-income communities and communities of color. While SB 10, the California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017, seeks to address the inequities of money bail at the state level, it may fail to include proper protections against the expansion of surveillance and harmful risk assessment tools. L.A. County has the opportunity to lead California in genuinely restorative pretrial practices that focus on needs and community-based support.

Constituents and advocates directly impacted by the jail crisis know what meaningful bail reform looks like. The entities that the Board of Supervisor’s County Counsel consulted in this process do not represent directly impacted voices or communities and seem to have one thing in common: an institutional commitment to the expansion and continued development and implementation of risk assessment tools.  Included in this is the reality that in some cases there are fiscal commitments to furthering the use of algorithm-based risk assessment tools in the pretrial system.


The report can be downloaded at


JusticeLA Town Hall Calls on White People to Step Up on Prison Reform

JusticeLA Town Hall Calls on White People to Step Up on Prison Reform

Unabridged transcript of a speech given at the Justice LA Town Hall at Hollywood United Methodist Church on January 11, 2018.

The task before us, as white people of conscience, is to mobilize other white folks into taking anti-racist action and to dismantle the white supremacist system that is crushing all of us. To be clear, we are not just talking about the brand of white supremacy touted by people who wear white hoods and the alt-right, or people who cover themselves in swastika tattoos. It is the white supremacist system that created the racial divide, and awarded white people both material and psychic benefits, causing us to distance ourselves from aligning with people of color to challenge power structures that oppress all of us. This centuries old scheme has allowed white people to support “law and order” policies that devastate poor white communities and communities of color. The law and order policies, under the guise of public safety, served to indoctrinate the vast majority of white people into a culture that supports and promotes incarceration as the tool to solve all of our social problems. What does it say of our county’s character if we value criminalizing mental health issues, poverty, and public health issues that stand to result in the need to expand jails instead of investing in the health of our community members; that building jails is a better investment than building schools; that building jails is a better investment than providing mental health care and substance abuse treatment services. Lastly, that building jails is more worthy of our tax dollars, than providing everyone with access to healthcare, affordable housing, education, and job training programs. All this to promote the illusion of public safety. But who defines public safety? Have you felt safer with each jail that has been constructed in California?

The trajectory of covert racism since the gains of the civil rights movement has allowed the white majority to submit to a brand of dog whistle politics that is responsible for gutting our social safety net programs, and increased our investment in the war on drugs…we tacitly accept a public health issue turned into a criminal justice issue…we tacitly accept criminalizing poverty and creating a culture where Black and Brown bodies are pathologized, demonized, and dehumanized. I think it’s important to note that we are only now seeing a shift in public opinion on harsh drug laws, not coincidentally, has this shift only occurred with the ongoing opioid crisis that has largely impacted white communities across the country.

It is with this in mind, that we, as white people of conscience, must force a change of course, and move away from normalizing the investment in jails and divestment in communities. We must put an end to racist policies and coded language that is used to justify locking people in cages instead of providing the social support needed for people who are struggling to survive. It is up to us to say we will not stand idly by and allow billions of our tax dollars to go toward incarceration, only to lock people out of society upon release, effectively being destined to second class citizenship thereafter.

We, as white people, must create the consciousness shift in millions of fellow white people in Los Angeles and across America — to say that we will no longer collude with the fragmentation that this white supremacist system has created. We will all benefit when our solidarity is strong, when we interrupt those who sow divisions based on race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability. When we recognize that our liberation is bound together…that the weight of oppressive systems will only be broken when we act. When we act together. It is time to bring an end to jail expansion in Los Angeles county and beyond. To all who care about justice, this is your issue. We must lay the groundwork to defeat all manifestations of racism in this country, with the expansion of the prison industrial complex being an egregious example of that which must be stopped.

As white people, we must demand that our county and our country do better than this. It is time that we reevaluate our priorities and our values that allow white people to feel an investment in jails is worthy over an investment in life. Let us together reimagine what a world free of cages could look like. If you had $3.5 Billion to solve pressing issues in Los Angeles County, how would you use it?

Please sign the Justice LA petition to demand the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors redirects jail expansion funds. For more ways to take action, follow the campaign on @justiceLAnow on social media platforms.

Dahlia Ferlito is a co-founder of White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL), a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA); WP4BL operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles.


JusticeLA Call for Artists!

JusticeLA Call for Artists!

JusticeLA, a coalition of over 30 organizations, is looking for 88 artists to shut down LA’s $3.5 billion jail plan. Artists will utilize the jail beds used at our campaign launch to create art, transforming symbols of oppression into symbols of protest and drop them into public places in each of the 88 cities in L.A. County by Christmas Eve. As the artist, you get to decide what you do with the jail beds and where in your city you drop it.

How to Get Involved

Submit a brief proposal to by Friday, Nov. 17.

Proposals should include your name, contact info and your idea for the piece, along with any examples of previous work you may have. We are prioritizing artists who have been directly impacted by incarceration and state violence.  If this applies to you, please say so if you feel comfortable.

We will notify artists of acceptance and city assignment by Friday, Nov. 24. and then each artist will have a month to create their project.

Thank you and we’re looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Click here to submit application


JusticeLA, una coalición de más de 30 organizaciones, está buscando a 88 artistas para luchar contra el plan de expansión del sistema carcelario de Los Angeles, que tendría un costo de $3.5 mil millones de dólares. Lxs artistas utilizarán las mismas camas de cárcel usados en nuestra campaña, convirtiendo estos símbolos de la opresión en simbolos de protesta. Las camas transformadas serán instaladas en espacios públicos en cada una de las 88 ciudades del condado de Los Angeles antes de la Nochebuena. Como artista, usted podrá decidir que hará con las camas y donde en tu ciudad las instalará.

Cómo participar

Envíe una propuesta breve a o en antes del viernes 17 de noviembre.

Su propuesta debe incluir su nombre, cómo contactarle, y su idea para su obra. Estamos priorizando artistas que han sido impactadxs directamente por el encarcelamiento y la violencia estatal. Si esto aplica a su experiencia, por favor menciónalo si se siente cómodx.

Notificaremos a lxs artistas sobre su aceptación y asignación de ciudad el viernes 24 de noviembre a más tardar. Lxs artistas tendrán un mes a partir de esa fecha para crear su proyecto.

Gracias! Esperamos sus ideas con entusiasmo!