These days when you search the news for “Los Angeles County Jail” you are bombarded with articles about racist emails from a top sheriff’s official, use of force increasing by 40%, deputies being convicted of assault, Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka’s conviction, Former Sheriff Lee Baca’s conviction, and the deaths of Matrice Richardson and Wakiesha Wilson.
If you look hard hidden within all of the news about sheriff brutality you can find a sentence here and there about the fact that Los Angeles County is moving forward with a plan to build two more jails to house this rampant culture of violence.
Let’s be clear, stopping this jail plan is not about money – it is about people’s lives. But, just to show how incredibly negligent the county is, let’s talk about money for a minute…
Los Angeles County’s proposed budget for the next year includes $118 million dollars for a new women’s jail to be built in the toxic Mira Loma site in Lancaster, more than 80 miles away from the current location in Lynwood, and another $5 million towards the planning of a new Men’s Central Jail, marketed as a “mental health jail.” The entire project is estimated to cost at least $2.3 BILLION dollars, but if the LASD has it their way it’ll cost even more. In an effort to ramp up the jail plan the sheriff’s department has been doing their own deal on the state level, scheming to get an additional BILLION dollars to take on 600 state prisoners within the county jails. That would make the jail expansion cost $3.5 BILLION at the minimum.
A perfect example of the sheriff department’s eagerness to expand the largest jail system in the world is the recent MacArthur grant. The MacArthur Foundation just awarded 11 grants ranging from $1.5 to $3.5 million to reduce jail populations. New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans were among the winners. Los Angeles was not. They instead received a smaller, lower-tier award of $150,000. Our team that looked over the LASD application theorize that it was deliberately flubbed.
There is hope. First of all, the budget has not been approved and you better believe we will be at the County Board of Supervisors meetings in full force advocating for funding community solutions. Second, the supervisors do not seem keen on accepting this sheriff-lead state deal. And third, just look at San Francisco! The people there were successful in stopping the jail plan.
Let’s change the news headlines and #STOP2BILLIONJAIL!
LA County Board of Supervisors agendas are often posted last minute so keep your Tuesday days flexible and follow us on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on actions. In the meantime contact your supervisor and tell them to stop the 2 billion dollar jail plan and invest in mental health diversion and community solutions! We. Will. Win.
Stay tuned to our blog for big updates regarding the Civilian Oversight Commission this month!