News Statement

A Vision for Supportive Pretrial Services in LA County 

→ See The Full Version of this Vision

A Vision for Supportive Pretrial Services in LA County: Abridged

November 2022


On any given day, nearly 7,000 people in Los Angeles County jails are at the pretrial phase of the criminal legal process, this number represents 45.7% of the County’s current jail population. LA County finds itself at a crossroads– the County can either choose to prioritize investments in the future of our communities, or systems that dehumanize Angelenos of color and perpetuate cyclical poverty. While the County has committed itself to a Care First vision for Los Angeles, the jail population continues to rise and people are spending more time in jail, away from critical services and resources. 

In March 2022, the County established the Justice, Care and Opportunities Department (JCOD) and tasked this new department with implementing and housing the County’s pretrial services agency. Shifting pretrial services into an independent agency is a critical first step in implementing the ATI pretrial recommendations; however, in order to ensure the success of the County’s new system, additional recommendations must be adopted in shaping JCOD. 

Grounded in best practices developed by national experts, the Community Care and Support Agency (CASA) model, ATI recommendations, and continuous community engagement, LA County’s care-based pretrial services model must be anchored in the following components:

  • The presumption of release 
  • Care and support, and NOT supervision
  • A commitment to address the long-standing, pervasive racial disproportionality issues in LA County’s jail system
  • Making significant advances towards the closure of Men’s Central Jail

In order to achieve and operationalize these anchoring components, the County should apply the following methods: 

  • Articulating a Comprehensive Vision and Concrete Benchmarks for JCOD: JCOD was founded in direct response to the findings of the Alternatives to Incarceration working group and designated as the County department to oversee pretrial services. Yet JCOD’s current mission is vague, shortsighted, missing key components of the ATI report findings, and lacks any discernible commitment to an actual Care First vision. JCOD’s pretrial model must articulate a clear plan for collaboration with judicial actors, service providers, and community stakeholders for group development of a departmental vision that is robust, focused, and geared towards tackling the issue of over incarceration in Los Angeles County through a socioeconomic, gender, and racial equity lens. The plan should include concrete goals, timelines, and benchmarks for implementation alongside other county departments and work groups. 

  • Community Engagement and Collaboration: Community engagement is a critical part of development and implementation of an effective and care-centered pretrial model. JCOD needs to establish concrete structures–including a JCOD steering committee, a community advisory board, and community engagement workgroups–to work with community leaders and organizations. Together they should articulate a robust vision for how its pretrial model will supportively move people out of jail and into community based structures of care. Once JCOD’s pretrial model is established, ongoing opportunities for community feedback must continue as outlined in recommendations 88 and 76 of the Care First, Jail Last Roadmap. (see full list of recs here).

  • Presumption of Release: As the COVID emergency zero bail order revealed, there are thousands of people who enter the jails who can and should immediately be released. Recommendations #55 and #56 of the ATI report recommend that the County institute a presumption of pretrial release for all individuals, especially those with mental health needs. The County’s pretrial services framework must ground itself in a presumption of pretrial release, prioritize release at the earliest possible point in the criminal legal process and create more efficient pretrial process and standards for assessing the needs, developing safety plans, and securing release of individuals at arraignment no later than 24 hours after arrest. The County should advocate for legislative changes that advance the presumption of release, and expand resources for the offices of the Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender. (see full list of recs here).

  • Care and Support not Supervision: Successful pre-trial models from across California and the country show that two components are necessary for Los Angeles’ pretrial model: 1) that it be grounded in community based support, 2) without supervision. Reliance on supervision denies the constitutional presumption of innocence and failure to comply with supervisorial requirements often lead to extreme consequences such as re-incarceration pre-trial and potentially harsher sentences. Surveillance-based conditions to pretrial release limit the viability of community support. To implement robust and effective pre-trial services, Los Angeles County must ensure service connection is provided at the earliest point possible and is led by a Community Care and Support Agency (CASA) rather than the probation department. 

  • Service Providers: Invest in Safety by Resourcing Care: A Care First model that centers public health and safety must center community based service providers who foreground trauma-informed care approaches. Emphasis must be placed on community service providers who provide specific and tailored services for individuals with mental health and substance use needs. All service providers included in the pretrial model must be aligned with Care First and have long-standing community trust. JCOD can work with the County to expedite funding processes for very-small to medium sized organizations to expand the pool of services providers able to meet the needs of pretrial populations and expand workforce development for the mental-health sector (see full list of recs here)

  • Tracking Progress Through Data Collection, Utilization, and Transparency: Frequent collection and reporting of data allows for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the County’s pretrial model. Data is also a tool for accountability and will support community advocates and public defenders in their own analyses of JCOD’s development. JCOD must build and maintain an adequate data infrastructure to ensure robust program evaluation and Conduct periodic data analysis to address issues of inequity and efficiency and implement evidence based practices in collaboration with the JCOD Steering Committee.  


The County’s investments into the Justice Care and Opportunity Department have the potential to transform a legal system that has, for too long, harmed low-income, unhoused, and communities of color in Los Angeles. We are at the precipice of change; to reimagine the future of Los Angeles County, it is necessary to finally invest in Care First systems and structures that reduce pretrial incarceration and help us realize the closure of Men’s Central Jail. 

→ See The Full Version of this Guide


JusticeLA Statement regarding LASD Funding in WeHo



Janet Asante, (310) 722-1474
Ambrose Brooks S., (310) 847-0196


After Community Outcry, West Hollywood City Council Votes to Remove 5 Sheriffs Deputies in the 2023 Fiscal Year and Reconsider Law Enforcement’s Patrol of Pride

Los Angeles, CA—Monday night, West Hollywood (WeHo) City Council made a historic vote to reallocate $1.6 million from the sheriff’s contract to a different model of security. Council agreed to invest in its own alternative crisis response team as well as the replacement of armed Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputies at next year’s Pride parade. 

WeHo is the first of 42 contract cities in LA County’s history to successfully challenge the skyrocketing costs of its annual service agreement with the LASD. In February, the WeHo Public Safety Commission recommended the City Council direct $3.6M out of the Sheriff’s contract into social services such as mental health, alternative crisis response teams, and permanent supportive housing. 

While this recommended reallocation of  $3.6M is a drop in the bucket of the overall $3.6 billion budget of the sheriff’s department, WeHo Captain Moulder claimed during the meeting that a lack of deputies has resulted in skyrocketing grand theft in the city. It has come to light that this grand theft refers to stolen cell phones at nightclubs. With 60 LASD Officers in the two square mile city, soaking up one sixth of the annual budget, the Department admitted that the thefts it solved summed up to 2 out of 249 stolen phones.

An unprecedented campaign to reallocate dollars from LASD to social services has been supported by the 17th president of the NAACP, founder of CalEITC4Me, former mayors, and more. City staff ignored data, residents’ demands, as well as the Safety Commission’s recommendations –– and proposed allocating an additional $1,030,000 to LASD this year plus $500,000 to audit the sheriff department’s self audit. 

Community organizations such as JusticeLA, Partners for Justice, Fund for Guaranteed Income, CURB, La Defensa, Dignity and Power Now, Gender Justice LA, Re-Imagine LA Coalition, and ACLU along with West Hollywood residents spent weeks making their concerns about this misappropriation of funds heard. As a result of this successful mobilization, WeHo will remove five deputies from the FY2023 contract.

Ivette Alé-Ferlito, Dignity and Power Now’s Director of Policy and Advocacy shared, “West Hollywood City Council’s decision to significantly reduce the reallocation of funding from the corrupt and fiscally incompetent Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is indefensible. As a Queer migrant organizer, I and many others in the community would like to see a full transformation of WeHo’s public safety system. The Public Safety Committee’s proposal to shift $3.6 million from the Sheriff’s budget was not that; it was simply a pragmatic step towards a more holistic vision that prioritizes care, and the Council could not deliver. The $2.4 million dollars they chose not to reallocate means that community-based services like HIV prevention, alternative crisis response, and mental health care will remain underfunded. Queer, Trans, Black, Brown, low income and otherwise vulnerable community members will continue to be most impacted by the Council’s lack of political will. We encourage West Hollywood leadership to stop tinkering at the margins and make the bold decisions their residents so desperately need.”

Ambrose Brooks, JusticeLA Coalition coordinator, remarked, “West Hollywood City Council’s June 27th budget vote is a step in the right direction: away from funding Sheriff’s violence and towards investing in care. The LA County Sheriff’s Department is charging contract cities tens of millions of dollars each year to criminalize Black, Brown, Queer, and Trans commnuities. All this while LASD imposes astronomical liability costs on cities with limited operating budgets. We thank Councilmembers Sepi Shyne, John D’Amico, and Lindsey Horvath, who openly recognized both these inequities and the fiscal irresponsibility of LASD, and voted accordingly. Other Los Angeles County contract cities must take the same path as West Hollywood, and also re-evaluate their costly contracts with LASD.”

During the Monday night meeting, WeHo residents expressed their frustrations with the Sheriff’s department budget and contract. And hundreds of letters were sent to Council over the past several months as residents learned the amount of money the city spends on one Sheriff’s deputy. WeHo’s bold yet insufficient decision to reallocate funds from the largest and deadliest sheriff’s department in the world laid down the gauntlet for other contract cities. The Council’s decision indicates what is possible, and what is next, in LA county –– the reimagination of public safety as investments in community-based alternatives to law enforcement. 


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.



JusticeLA Statement in response to Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Targeted Harassment of Journalists and Families

For decades the community has voiced outrage at the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s (LASD) continued repression of the First Amendment rights of protesters and journalists. The department brutalized NPR reporter Josie Huang. Alex Villanueva personally threatened to arrest Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle, and ran campaign ads targeting a private citizen to incite violence––using their face and name in accusations that he is a “paid activist Marxist.” Villanueva also ran a surrealist campaign ad calling LA Times publishers “white Marxist racists,” telling the paper to “#S@!% Your Endorsement,” ironically after he completed an endorsement interview where he accused LA County Inspector General Max Huntsman of being a holocaust denier.

This week, the LASD amped-up their targeting of journalists. At Villanueva’s own press conference, he threatened LA Times journalist Alene Tchekmedyian with a criminal investigation due to her coverage of a security video showing a deputy kneeling on the head of a handcuffed incarcerated person for three minutes. Villanueva stated that he had no knowledge of the video’s existence, but reporters at KnockLA refuted this claim.

Villanueva referred to Alene Tchekmedyan’s coverage as an “obstruction of justice.” In a response from the LA Times legal counsel, “You are on notice that if the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department attempts to search the property or data of Ms. Tchekmedyian or any other L.A. Times employee in this matter, the department will have directly violated the PPA and clearly established constitutional law and L.A. Times will seek every available remedy against you, the department, and every individual official involved in
any such unlawful conduct.”

These incidents are not isolated actions of one rogue officer; rather, they reflect a coordinated effort to publicly attack, physically harass, and in the worst cases murder residents who speak out against the department’s misconduct––the very constituents which the department has been allocated $3.6 billion dollars to protect and serve. Indeed, the way LASD and Sheriff Villanueva respond to vocal critics and reporters reveals a worrisome intention to delegitimize and forcefully silence any opposition to the department’s history of obstructing justice. LASD has a multi-million dollar public relations budget deployed to manipulate the narratives about the department’s actions — all paid by our tax dollars. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is closely examining their police department’s public relations budget and it is time for Los Angeles county to do the same.

LASD’s tactics of intimidation extend well beyond their public relations machine. There are 18 reported deputy gangs within the LASD and an investigative unit known for its targeting of public critics of the department. On an almost daily basis, LASD intimidates and harasses the families of those who have been killed by deputies. The county cannot continue to look away from this egregious, long-standing abuse of power. We call on the Board of Supervisors and County CEO to address the blatant lack of
intra-department accountability within LASD by significantly reducing their public relations budget in the 2022-2023 budget, and take any and all accountability measures within their power. Public funding should not be used to intimidate, harass, and threaten the lives of reporters and community members. County action to hold LASD accountable is long overdue.



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


Justice LA Statement on LA County’s Creation of a Jail Closure Implementation Team

Get the PDF statement here

The Justice LA coalition has championed and amplified the longstanding demand for the closure of Men’s Central Jail for years, and is fully committed to supporting the development of critical steps towards closing this deadly and expensive jail once and for all. Members of our coalition, volunteers, and community have given literally thousands of hours to the County in an effort to move towards a Care First reality. Through these partnerships, collaboration, and public access we have jointly created: 1) the Care First, Jails Last ATI Report, 2) Men’s Central Jail Closure Report, and 3) the Measure J year one spending plan. The process to develop those reports and recommendations was not easy, but these reports and recommendations speak for themselves. The county was right to support and facilitate a process that became a model for civic democracy and led to policy outcomes that became the envy of the country. These collaborations and partnerships have been transformative, and the results of our collective, transformational and collaborative work put the national spotlight on LA County for the right reasons. We shared with the County a thorough roadmap towards finally ending its horrific and shameful reliance on punishment and jails.

Now, we are frustrated to see the County continue to put process over outcomes. The only way to close a jail is to close it. Other jurisdictions have done this with far less resources and far less public support. MCJ should have been closed and demolished years ago, and yet, this motion sets no clear timeline for such a closure. The Men’s Central Jail Closure Report includes pathways and a 18-24 month timeline for how to reduce the jail population while increasing capacity for community-based services in order to close down MCJ and other jails. We are concerned that this new implementation process would cause additional delays and bureaucratic hurdles, when the Board has the power to direct the CEO to close MCJ now. The multitude of reports that the County has used to slow the process, including the Health Management Associates Report from six years ago, and the pending Jim Austin Report, are blockades to progress that have and continue to slow the vital process of releasing our loved ones from this life-threatening carceral facility. The slowing of jail closure due to bureaucracy and the prolonging of this process is painfully similar to prior efforts that not only failed to close MCJ, but that also eventually brought about plans to expand the jail system. Prior echoes of what is currently taking place brought about the necessity for the community to step up, and subsequently birthed JusticeLA. Instead of introducing more layers of bureaucracy to the MCJ Closure process, we must speed up the process with all of the ATI and Measure J Recommendations already in place.

The motion, as approved, cuts out the very drivers that brought us to this point. It is hard to understand the logic, and even harder to imagine that the motion will actually lead to the closure of MCJ in the timeline recommended in the MCJ Closure Report. We are concerned that the Jail Closure Implementation Team (JCIT) has no embedded community voices or accountability mechanisms despite the mandate to receive input from the community. It is imperative that community members who have been directly impacted by incarceration and criminalization are specifically included in this next phase of closure. Groups of directly impacted people already exist within the County’s infrastructure, and should be fully resourced. For example, the LA County Reentry Health Advisory Collaborative (RHAC) is composed of people directly impacted by incarceration, and its members can be helpful to the JCIT as they informed the Men’s Central Jail Closure work. If this process is to be successful the community needs to be at the table, and not an afterthought.

We believe it is unnecessary to create a whole new body that the community will not have access to. Instead, the Board should direct the existing Jail Population Review Council–which is composed of county departments and representatives from the community–to bottom-line MCJ’s closure, and, if necessary, to add in department representatives that are not currently a part of that group. County departments and the community know what to do and have been working on this together for years now.

We believe that the Men’s Central Jail closure process should not be centered around a strategy of attrition. No jail has ever been closed that way. Strategies of attrition place the most vulnerable in an even more unsafe holding pattern, as subjects for policy experimentation rather than as human beings who continue to be at risk for harm and death in an institution with two decades of data showing its harms. The mandate to close jails should not be dependent on whether a Sheriff’s department decides to change its arrest priorities or whether the department of Probation prioritizes technical violations, for example. It also should not be dependent on the courts and judges, who are not accountable to anyone but themselves. The Sheriff’s recent statement that houseless people are an “existential threat,” and his threats of mass arrest of the houseless population in Venice, despite the overwhelming evidence that LASD intervention has been harmful, grossly contradict the County’s ‘Care First, Jail Last’ plan. His behavior demonstrates that the LA County jail population is subject to the political agendas of various departments’ leadership.

The County must maintain diligence in funding the Men’s Central Jail Closure Plan and Measure J Year 1 Spending Recommendations. Black and Brown people make up most of the people in the LA County jail system. The County must thus invest in life-affirming interventions that reduce police contact and arrests of Black and Brown people, as well as scale up diversion efforts. Funding these priorities ensures that the historic steps taken towards jail closure will build lasting momentum towards a care first Los Angeles.

Our coalition is disappointed by the decision to create another process to figure out how to close MCJ. Today’s motion doesn’t bring us any closer to closing MCJ than we were 6 months ago. We know this Board has committed to closing down Men’s Central Jail; at this stage we need more than words, and frankly, a better plan. We need to see the Board make a commitment to continue to work with the community in a way that has already been proven effective. The Board must set a clear and rapid timeline to close down Men’s Central Jail with the continued involvement of community voices, and without creating more bureaucracy.

This statement is in response to the following Board Motion: 27. Jails Last: Creation of the Jail Closure Implementation Team


Statement: LASD needs to fund tech for remote access to court proceedings

JusticeLA urges the immediate release of our community members incarcerated pretrial; urges LASD to fund and expand technology for remote access to pandemic  court proceedings from their existing budget

At the close of January 2021, LA County presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor, of the Superior Court of California, issued a new General Order. The order authorizes judicial emergency continuances for Criminal and Juvenile Dependency court cases. The Judge stated that he made this order based on the high number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County. This order will extend the length of time that our incarcerated community members are held pretrial in both adult and youth jails across the County. Activists, community members, public defenders, organizers, legal scholars and policy experts are all horrified.

Despite the clarion calls of community, and the research proving the deadly impacts of COVID-19 in the jails, the Presiding Judge has issued an order that increases the deadliness of COVID for our incarcerated loved ones.

Eunisses Hernandez, Co-founder and Executive Director of La Defensa, highlights the urgency of opposing this order from the presiding Judge. She says, “Judge Taylor’s order shows blatant disregard for our community members’ humanity. This disregard runs throughout the entire criminal legal system. Judge Taylor is acting without considering the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on our incarcerated loved ones. The Judge is out of step with the Measure J voter-mandate to invest in care rather than punishment. He is also out of step with the LA County Board of Supervisors’ commitment to a care-first vision. The Courts must course-correct and prioritize the health and safety of our community members.”

The lived experience and testimony of our community members shows just how negligent and harmful the conditions created by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department inside the jails are. Rojas, LA Organizer with Young Women’s Freedom Center, shares the way that pretrial incarceration has harmed them, saying, “When I was incarcerated in the County jail pretrial, I had to bunk up with someone with asthma & breast cancer. It was so dangerous to have people with serious health concerns in cells with multiple people during the pandemic. LASD didn’t show any regard for our risk of getting COVID-19. They also gave out masks that were extremely poor quality — the masks were made out of ripped sheets, and didn’t prevent the spread of viruses. I was supposed to have Court in seventy-two hours, but I had to wait five extra days. I was kept in for eight days total. I had no charges but because of my parole they left me in there.” Rojas’ experience shows LASD’s irresponsible holding of our community members for prolonged periods, endangering their lives.

Rojas continues, “I had a different bunkie each day, and they never separated anyone for COVID-safety in the holding tanks. They even put me in a cell with no water.” Rojas’ experience is not isolated: countless members of our communities have reported conditions of abuse and the stark impossibility of social distancing in the County jails.

The JusticeLA Coalition has long been fighting against pretrial incarceration, taking a strong stance against the use of risk assessments that increase the length and severity of pretrial detention. JusticeLA has partnered with others in coalition to author policy that will preserve the presumption of innocence for our community members who are charged with, but not convicted of, a crime. We are working to preserve the presumption of innocence and ensure the pretrial release of our community members through an LA County pilot program, as well as through statewide policy advocacy.

Titilayo Rasaki, Policy Associate at Essie Justice Group, who leads pretrial justice policy work, shares, “It is essential that we don’t cause further harm to our community members by exposing them to COVID-19 while they are waiting for their court hearings. It is immoral that the LA County Presiding Judge Taylor wants to extend our loved ones’ pretrial incarceration. The harm caused by this decision extends out to the disportionately Black women with incarcerated loved ones. Families and communities are fighting to free their loved ones while struggling to keep families financially afloat, and tend to the weighty mental health burdens of children with incarcerated parents. It is inconceivable that the Presiding Judge is standing in the way of the safety, health and human rights of our loved ones, and blocking their release. ”

In addition to the urgent need for pretrial release, the JusticeLA Coalition calls for video conferencing technology to be used temporarily during the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Court proceedings. LASD has failed to provide appropriate conditions to socially distance in Los Angeles County jails; as a result, our community members  are forced to quarantine, leading to them missing their court cases.  Video conferencing technology will move along court cases that were previously on hold due to the need to quarantine in jails. We are clear that the funding for this video technology should come out of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s (LASD’s) existing budget, rather than be another reason why LASD advocates to extract more of our community’s tax dollars. We note that Progressive District Attorneys have called for these video conferencing capabilities. In addition, we note that if our loved ones were allowed to come home to handle their Court case from their home community, instead of being detained pretrial, the Sheriff’s Department would not need to pay for video conferencing in the first place.

COVID-19 had already extended the average length of pretrial incarceration for our loved ones by many months. The presiding Judge’s new order will extend the length of time our loved ones are incarcerated for by even longer. Research from the UCLA Bail Practicum has shown how dangerous and harmful the extended stays of our community members in pretrial detention are. In December 2020, the UCLA Bail Practicum released a report, “Counting the Days: The Story of Prolonged Detention During COVID-19,” that highlighted the deadly impacts of prolonging pretrial detention in the LA County jails. 

Alicia Virani, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law and a former public defender, says, “It is disturbing to see the Presiding Judge of LA County ignoring the will of the people and the scientific data that shows how our already-most-vulnerable community members are being exposed to the threats of COVID-19 at heightening risk levels because of prolonged pretrial incarceration. With this new order from the Presiding Judge, we are moving in a direction that is diametrically opposed to the health and safety of our loved ones. The County needs to devise procedures to release people instead of continuing to increase arrests and delay court dates, which has led to an unacceptable backlog of criminal cases. Releases are the only effective way to keep incarcerated people and court staff safe, and to protect people’s constitutional rights.”

Other JusticeLA Coalition members share Virani’s concern. Rebecca Brown, Legal Fellow from Court Watch LA, underscores the urgent need to release people back into our communities, saying, “The Los Angeles Superior Court, as well as the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, have a number of strategies available to them to make the superior courts safer. We implore those offices to urgently implement the use of strategies that will not result in longer periods of pretrial incarceration for our community members.”

Brown continues, “The court and prosecutors need to reconsider what cases are being filed and heard at this time.  Forcing people into court for traffic infractions or low-level misdemeanor offenses is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in the courts, while continuing to criminalize poverty in the midst of the pandemic. And, over 445 court employees have tested positive for COVID-19, showing risks across all parts of the system. The solution to this crisis is not incarcerating people for indefinite periods of time, but a meaningful re-evaluation of Los Angeles’s criminal legal system.” Brown raises the critical point that, for something as insignificant as a traffic ticket, our community members are being forced into incarceration. This explicit criminalization of poverty, which can lead our most vulnerable to COVID-19  exposure, is deeply unjust. None of our community members should risk exposure to COVID-19 due to pretrial detention. Presiding Judge Taylor’s order must be rescinded, and the Courts must speed the progress of slowed cases with temporary access to video conferencing technology. Ultimately, we must release our loved ones so that they can return home.



Statement to DDA: Voters Support Progressive DA Policies

JUSTICE LA To Deputy District Attorneys:
Voters supported progressive changes, don’t stand in the way

A coalition of countless families and organizations working to reduce the footprint of incarceration condemn the Association of Deputy District Attorneys’ refusal to enact the demands of the people

LOS ANGELES – The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) has a hearing today about their motion for a preliminary injunction on Gascón’s directives to stop filing sentencing enhancements. It will be up to the judge today whether or not the Deputy Attorneys who disagree with Gascón have the right to ignore the directives.

Justice LA, since its founding, has successfully stopped LA County’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan and led the development of LA County’s Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup report, not for the sake of combatting one specific elected leader or body but to prioritize the voices of millions of Angelinos across the county. “Our coalition partners have been on the ground for decades picking up the pieces of the impact of mass incarceration, and healing our communities. This move by the DA deputies is not surprising, but ridiculous given the number of people who now believe that our justice system needs fixing. Voters overwhelmingly support a transformation of our local injustice system as highlighted by Gascón’s win,” says Anthony Robles, Community Organizer at the Youth Justice Coalition.

These actions from the ADDA are repulsive because they ignore the years-long will of the people of both California and Los Angeles County. “The Deputies Union supported Prop 20, and has continued to lie to both their members and the general public about what criminal justice reforms do. Prop 20 was defeated last year, and Prop 47 passed in 2014 because more and more people are starting to see that harsher sentences and more policing does not help our communities,” said Eunisses Hernandez, Founder & Executive Director of La Defensa.

The law enforcement and police lobby have no place in meddling with what California voters ultimately decide. While “tough-on-crime” policies were passed due to national and statewide dog whistles about Black and brown people, important shifts are happening across the state to enact needed changes to heal our communities. For decades, organizations like Justice LA have been listening to and working with families directly impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration, and have empowered these families to tell leaders how they want to see policies and practices change. The ACLU of Southern California’s Criminal Justice Director, Summer Lacey, notes that “The Association of Deputy District Attorneys is out of touch with what the people of Los Angeles truly want – change. The community voted for a justice system that works for the people, not for special interests.”

Ivette Alé, Senior Policy Lead for Dignity and Power Now, adds, “Our communities have long advocated for transformation rather than harsh punishment. The Deputy District Attorney’s Association is using scare tactics to maintain this failed system at the expense or our communities. This is unjust, and will not keep our communities safer.”

Brian Kaneda, Deputy Director of Californians United for a Responsible Budget, says, “CURB strongly supports the progressive reforms that voters demanded when they elected LA District Attorney Gascon. The “tough on crime” opposition to these new policies from judges and the ADDA is obscenely anti-democratic and defies the will of the people.

“Their pushback against ending sentence enhancements is particularly egregious. Sentence enhancements are blunt, racist tools of mass incarceration that have not been proven to increase public safety. Gang enhancements, for instance, have criminalized entire cultures and families. Retroactively repealing all sentence enhancements would be a major step toward ending mass incarceration in LA County. Anyone opposed to that must be deeply invested in a culture of perpetual punishment.”


JusticeLA Supports Ending the Death Penalty in California                                                               

JusticeLA Supports Ending the Death Penalty in California

The #JusticeLA Coalition, an alliance of organizations, advocates, and community members impacted by incarceration applauds Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty. California has long held the title of the nation’s largest death row — a striking contrast to the state’s image as a progressive stalwart.

Governor Newsom showed the power of principle by halting the practice of state-sanctioned murder, and quite literally saving the lives of 737 people, reminding us that governors have such power. With at least 164 death row exonerations having happened since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1973, and at least 30 known wrongful convictions on CA’s death row, we face a crisis of state violence and reckless and unprincipled law enforcement that we know is represented in jails and prisons everywhere.

While the death penalty stands as the heinous endgame of the punitive and violet criminal justice system, and the most egregious example of extreme sentencing, California must address the overwhelming population of people serving Life Without Parole (LWOP). Over 5000 people are serving LWOP sentences in California prisons and of the nearly 200 people serving LWOP in CA women’s prisons, the overwhelming majority are survivors of abuse, including intimate partner battering, childhood abuse, sexual violence, and sex trafficking. The structural harm and inequity that feeds the death penalty, feeds all other forms of sentencing as well. Black and Brown people are disproportionately sentenced to LWOP, revealing the same prosecutorial bias and racial discrimination that the Governor himself cited as reason for his decisive and historic end to the death penalty in California.  

JusticeLA strongly supports California’s campaign to end Life Without Parole sentencing (Drop LWOP) lead by California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).

Governor Newsom now has an opportunity to build on Governor Brown’s unprecedented number of commutations to people serving LWOP sentences in California prisons. While commuting a sentence does not guarantee release from prison, it does guarantee that each person will have the right to see the parole board in their lifetime, rather than being sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison under a “living death penalty.” A step away from California’s long standing dissonance of values has occurred with this moratorium, and we hope that our lawmakers follow suit and begin doing more.