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JusticeLA Demands Action On the Anniversary of the “Care First, Jails Last” Alternatives to Incarceration Report

Today marks two years since the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) adopted the foundational recommendations of the Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup Final Report, a groundbreaking roadmap for decarceration and service expansion throughout the county. The model of the ATI Workgroup was unprecedented – not only in size and scope, but also in its inclusion of community decision-making power. Hundreds of community members were consulted and involved in the drafting of the report’s recommendations, including over 50 members of the JusticeLA coalition–several of whom were workgroup voting members and committee chairs. By adopting the foundational recommendations in the report, the BOS made a public commitment to invest county resources in developing a system based on care, not punishment. Two years later, we have not forgotten that promise and continue to hold the BOS to their commitment. 

This visionary partnership between county and community produced a groundbreaking document rigorously developed through a consensus-based model. Through this collaborative process, community members worked side by side with the county, proving that when the community is allowed a seat at the table, government is more creative, holistic, efficient and effective. At the time of the adoption of the recommendations, Eunisses Hernandez, Co-Founder of La Defensa and a voting member of the county’s ATI Workgroup, called the report “a practical, yet powerful and visionary set of recommendations for how we could begin building out a decentralized community based system of care and housing first and foremost.” She uplifted the coalition’s demand to “stop the mass incarceration of our most vulnerable and unsupported community members in LA County.” 

But our strong support was not without heavy concerns.

READ THE REST OF THE PRESS RELEASE HERE:

JusticeLA Demands Action On the Anniversary of the “Care First, Jails Last” Alternatives to Incarceration Report

 

 

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Press Release: Victories for a Progressive Care First Vision Passed by LA BOS

LOS ANGELES, CA – Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion authored by Supervisor Sheila Keuhl establishing the Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department (JCOD) and the Department of Youth Development (DYD). This Board approved motion also establishes independent pretrial services under the new JCOD – a significant shift from the failed Probation led pretrial system that has driven LA County’s pretrial population to nearly 50% of the jail system. The creation of an independent pretrial services agency outside of the probation department is a demand that the community has been voicing for decades.

Noticeably absent from the motion was any funding commitment to support the establishment of the departments and the expansion of desperately needed services. The transformative potential of the JCOD and DYD will be more realized if the Board prioritizes funding these county departments in this year’s budget cycle. The community’s demands at Tuesday’s Board meeting were loud and clear—the Board must take swift action to allocate significant funding for JCOD and DYD and commit to closing Men’s Central Jail by March 2023.

READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE:

Victories for a Progressive Care First Vision Passed by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: Next Step, A Fully-Funded Care First Budget

 

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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.

DOWNLOAD

The report can be downloaded at http://justicelanow.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Bail-Reform.pdf.

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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 jailbedsart@gmail.com 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 jailbedsart@gmail.com o en https://goo.gl/forms/PPmxmaDnRqNjzzba2 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!

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Following Third Death in L.A. Jail, JusticeLA Announces Antelope Valley Town Hall Meeting

JusticeLA follows their ‘jail bed protest’ with  series of town hall meetings focused on fighting jail expansion plan

Los Angeles, CA – After the announcement of yet a third death in an L.A. jail within the span of a month, JusticeLA, a coalition of organizations challenging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on their plans to spend $3.5 billion on two new jails, will hold a town hall meeting on Monday, October 23 in Antelope Valley to discuss their campaign to call on the County to redirect funds intended for new jails to community services and other alternatives to incarceration. The meeting follows JusticeLA’s campaign kickoff against the county’s jail expansion plan that saw 100 jail beds placed in front of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles.  The town hall meeting will be held on Monday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the Center for Spiritual Living in Lancaster (1030 W. Avenue L8).

“With all of the thousands of deputies and officers working in our jails with the sole job of watching inmates–while at the same time costing the citizens of Los Angeles County tens of millions of dollars each year–there’s absolutely no excuse for people to be dying in our county and city jails,” said JusticeLA co-founder Patrisse Cullors.  “More than half of the people in our jails are only there because they haven’t stood trial and cannot afford to pay the high bail.  The Board of Supervisors wants to take $3.5 billion and sink it into the same failed jail system instead of considering alternatives to incarceration.  That’s just ridiculous. There’s an old saying that goes ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’  Well it’s broke and we want to fix it.”

The third death was announced Monday by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner as being a 50-year-old man who was found unresponsive in his cell and died at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Detention Center over the weekend. Nineteens days earlier, two inmate deaths were reported two days apart at L.A. County Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

In 2015, the Board of Supervisors approved a settlement with federal officials over allegations that sheriff’s officials systematically harassed minority residents in the Antelope Valley and targeted African Americans living in subsidized housing.  In 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ)  found that the Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster and Palmdale stations, both of which are located in the Antelope Valley, engaged in a pattern or practice of stops, searches, and seizures and excessive force in violation of the Constitution and federal law.  In addition, the DOJ found a pattern of discrimination against African Americans in its enforcement of the Housing Choice Voucher Program in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  The settlement requires the Sheriff’s Department to comply with a series of rules on training, use of force and community engagement, and to be subjected to independent monitoring of its progress.

Long time Antelope Valley resident and former vice-chair of the Antelope Valley branch of the NAACP Waunette Cullors added, “The Antelope Valley is oftentimes forgotten by the Board of Supervisors and the Fifth District is underserved on so many levels.  African-Americans and people of color are the ones who suffer the most when we don’t invest in our communities. This town hall meeting is a chance to engage Antelope Valley residents in the possibility of reclaiming, reimagining and reinvesting in our youth and families in hopes of creating a future where we don’t need to spend billions of dollars on incarceration. As a community we should decide how to best utilize funds to better serve our community’s needs.”

The Antelope Valley town hall meeting is co-sponsored by: Paving the Way Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Antelope Valley chapter, Sun Village Women’s Club, The Way Center of Truth, Green Thumb Antelope Valley Youth Group, Serenity Village Developments, Antelope Valley League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Antelope Valley Building the Base Face to Face, California Africology Association, Stop Mass Incarceration and One Way Up.

JusticeLA will be holding town hall meetings around the County’s planned jail expansion in each of the five supervisorial districts.

For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/2z6pId0

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JusticeLA’s Statement on Two Inmate Deaths in Two Days in L.A. County Men’s Central Jail

The following statement is from JusticeLA in response to announcement that there have been two inmate deaths in two days in L.A. County Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles:

“When someone is arrested and put in jail, their health and wellbeing falls into the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  It’s unacceptable for anyone to die while in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department but to have two deaths in two days only proves our point that Los Angeles doesn’t need to build new jails–they can’t run the ones they have now without inmates constantly coming up dead on their watch.  The Los Angeles County jail is the nation’s largest and at least nine inmates have died this year on their watch and in their custody. Last year there were 20 inmate deaths reported, and in 2015, there were 21.

“When you factor in that 51% of the  L.A. County’s jail population has yet to stand trial and be sentenced for a crime–primarily due to the fact that people cannot pay for high bail amounts–it makes it that much more horrendous that inmates are dying are in our jails.

“With an ever increasing mental health population in the county’s jail system, we stand by our assertion that you can’t get well in a cell.  Instead of investing $3.5 billion in building new jails with even more sheriff’s deputies who can’t stop inmates from coming up dead–we need to be reinvesting that money back into the community-based alternatives to incarceration.”  

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JusticeLA Kicks Off Campaign to End Jail Expansion in L.A. County

Campaign Against Jail Expansion in L.A. County By Bringing 100 Jail Beds to County Board of Supervisors Meeting

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors launches new campaign in Los Angeles to stop jail expansion

Over 200 activists with JusticeLA—wearing “L.A. County jail” orange colored shirts—set up 100 jail beds in front of Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday ahead of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting. The beds represented the launch of JusticeLA’s campaign to stop the jail expansion and were intended to send a loud and clear message to the decision makers that JusticeLA opposes spending $3.5 billion on two new jails and supports re-investing that money back into the community. For over 6 hours traffic was diverted around Temple Street between Hill Street and Grand Avenue in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ civic center area for what JusticeLA says was the largest display of jail beds ever used in a demonstration.

“The Los Angeles County jail system is the largest jail system in the world—soon to be universe with their planned expansion,” explained JusticeLA’s Patrisse Cullors. “We delivered the beds they want to cage us in. We made the private, public. Many of us have actually been on these beds—had loved one in these beds. For us the beds represent a symbology. A bed is where you go to dream. But these beds literally destroy communities. These beds are taking money out of taxpayer’s pockets. So we brought the beds to them.”

JusticeLA was formed by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Dignity and Power Now along with anchor organizations: Californians United for Responsible Budget (CURB), Community Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, Immigrant Youth Coalition, TransLatin@ Coalition, Revolve Impact and Youth Justice Coalition. In partnership with a coalition of community organizations working with directly impacted communities affected by incarceration, JusticeLA was formed to reclaim, reimagine and reinvest what L.A. County could do with the $3.5 billion allocated to building a 3,885-bed replacement for the downtown Men’s Central Jail and to renovate the now-vacant Mira Loma Detention Center into a 1,600-bed women’s facility in Lancaster—replacing the Lynwood facility.

Inside of Tuesday’s meeting of the County Board of Supervisors’ meeting JusticeLA presented a motion calling for a moratorium on jail construction and expansion to the supervisors. The motion calls for 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. Supervisors were asked to undertake a thorough study of the potential impact of the recent influx of resources and reforms on the current jail population and conduct an investigation into future reforms that will further reduce the jail and other custody populations.

JusticeLA is challenging the supervisors to adopt a framework and methodology for integrating Measure H and Proposition 47 resources to complement existing and emerging efforts by the County of Los Angeles to reduce the jail population, reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by county voters in March, is projected to provide nearly $259 million. Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014, downgraded six drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors and allows defendants to renegotiate their punishments. California will begin the process of awarding millions of dollars in grants funded by the Proposition 47’s cost savings from keeping fewer nonviolent offenders in prison. JusticeLA is also advocating for monies from AB 109, the state’s prison realignment law enacted to ease California’s burgeoning prison overcrowding problem that moves the responsibility of administering certain inmates from the state to counties, to be put into cost-effective programs proven to reduce incarceration and recidivism rather than on expansion of police forces and expensive high-tech tracking systems.

In addition, the supervisors are being asked to 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 to create a more accurate assessment of future jail population.

“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,” said Mark-Anthony Johnson with JusticeLA. “JusticeLA is advocating for funding to go into community-based alternatives and not jails to address the communities with the highest rates of imprisonment. Those communities tend to be primarily poor and working class communities of color that are also disproportionately high in unemployment, home foreclosures, school cutbacks, inadequate access to healthcare and lower-than- average life expectancies.”

In L.A. County, 40 percent of female inmates are Latino while 32 percent are Black. The men’s facilities’ population is currently 50% Latino and 30% Black – over 80% people of color. While Black people make up less than 9% of L.A. County’s population, they are almost a third of the county jail population. The most impacted districts in L.A. County are Districts 1 & 2 represented by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas and encompassing the larger areas of East L.A. and South L.A.—neighborhoods that are predominantly low-income/working class, migrant, Black and Latino. More than half of those imprisoned have not been convicted of a crime and cannot afford bail.

Jonathan Perez, of JusticeLA, said time spent incarcerated, even for a short period, can affect a person’s mental health as well as job opportunities.

“These beds follow us,” Perez said.

There are plans to build a new mental health jail with an inadequate amount of health care workers. JusticeLA believes this will directly endanger communities of color who do not have access to low-cost, quality mental health care in Los Angeles, yet who are targeted by policing and incarceration. According to L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, there are approximately 3,000 people in L.A. jails with mental illness “essentially turning the jail into a psychiatric ward.”

“I believe that the County Board of Supervisors should have a commission to study alternatives to jails,” said Patrisse Cullors. “With $3.5 billion we could support people who are houseless and getting them homes. We could support children who have little access to getting healthy food.   I’m a lover of life and I deeply believe in humanity’s ability to do better than we’re currently doing.”