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Sneaking a $2 Billion Jail Construction Project into a Jail Diversion Vote

On August 11th the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to spend upwards of $2 billion to build two new jail facilities. The vote was illegal. According to the Brown Act, all public meetings require items to be publicly placed on the agenda at least 72 hours before the meeting, not read into the agenda the day of.

Many of us attended the board meeting that morning with hopes of celebrating a motion – spearheaded by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Kuehl – to secure $100 million for an Office of Diversion and diversion infrastructure such as supportive housing. This would have been a victory in the wake of the previous meeting where both Supervisor Knabe and District Attorney Jackie Lacey felt the need to emphasize that jail diversion is not jail reduction. The ongoing, and at times compulsive, narrative that jail alternatives won’t reduce the jail population is frustrating and ungrounded. Sneaking a $2 billion jail construction project into a jail diversion vote shows us that this logic is not only faulty, it’s compulsive.

Last week Mike Antonovich introduced a motion to re-vote on the issue of an Office of Diversion and jail construction. This swift move to correct the Brown Act violation was appropriately initiated by Supervisor Antonovich as he kicked off the illegal August 11th vote by reading in his jail construction proposal. The motion to vote on the issues again was approved while there are still plenty of unanswered questions. For example:


1. How much will these proposed facilities actually cost the county?

2. A report by Health Management Associates stated that the jail population would grow beyond current capacity if the county did nothing. Since the county is funding diversion efforts and since the sheriff’s department has received a state grant to reduce the county jail population by 15%, why not maximize this momentum and build community alternatives?

3. Why is 50% of the jail population being held on exuberant bail schedules when they could be subject to a risk-based pre-trial release program?

4. Why is the county considering building a women’s jail when jails have only produced medical negligence and abuse for people housed in women’s facilities?

These are just a few of the unanswered questions that stain any talk of jail construction.


On September 1st we will converge again on the Hall of Administration where the supervisors will again vote. As of now the county is moving forward with these two issues as one agenda item. Both diversion and jail construction should be dealt with separately but follow one single agenda: optimize diversion efforts for Black and Brown people, women, and those with mental health conditions as a long term jail reduction strategy.

For more info on this please click to watch our latest video and read our new report on the women’s jail.

AB 953: Imagining an Existence Without Racial Profiling

Can You Imagine an Existence Without Racial Profiling?
With Assembly Bill 953 (Preventing Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement), We Can.

Imagine that harassment and oppression are a routine part of your life. That on a regular basis, you, your loved ones, and your community are consistently targeted by police because of your race or identity. Imagine the trauma caused by the knowledge that no one was keeping track of when this happened and that the police were not being held accountable for their actions.

Many communities in California do not have to imagine this at all. Many people of color, whether cis gender, transgender, or gender non-conforming adults, and children, are constantly targeted by law enforcement because of their race or identity even when there is NO evidence of criminal activity. A 2015 report by a police department in California found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation, and that blacks and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of whites, respectively.

For these communities racial and identity profiling, though currently illegal, is a routine part of their reality and is the entry way to mass incarceration, and other disparities.

Now, imagine an existence where police are held accountable for their actions, and where we can get basic information about what police are up to. That when police are trained, this training takes into account that the officer may have biases about race and identity that impact how they treat you and your community. Imagine if there were a group of people, an—advisory council, so to speak,—whose job it were to monitor how the police are interacting with your community with the goal of protecting you against racial profiling. Imagine that each and every time the police, stop, search, or shoot someone, it were reported or somehow captured.

Now, realize that there is a bill (AB 953), making its way through the California Legislature right now, that will do much of what we imagined above. Although, we know that collecting data will not fix broader issues with disparate policing, but increased transparency and accountability will bring us one step closer to a more just system.

In short, AB 953 allows us to #ImagineNoRacialProfiling and to imagine a system in which #BlackLivesMatter.


What you need to know about AB 953:

1. Racial and identity profiling occurs when law enforcement personnel stop, search, seize property from, or interrogate a person without evidence of criminal activity.

2. Though racial profiling by law enforcement is technically illegal, to date, California does not collect or make public basic information about who police stop, search, or even shoot. AB 953 would change that.

3. The Bill was authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and the cosponsors are Dignity and Power Now, the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Sacramento, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition.

4. The Bill is currently on the California Assembly Floor which means that THIS WEEK, on JUNE 3RD it will be voted on by ALL MEMBERS OF THE CA ASSEMBLY.



AB 953 is on its way to the Assembly floor for a vote on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3RD. The law enforcement lobby is ramping up its efforts and we need votes to pass this bill and protect our communities!

1. Click to TWEET!

2. Click to find and CALL your assemblymember!

3. Click for a prompt to EMAIL!

Photo: Balthazar Beckett

Welcome New DPN Staff!

Carrie Leilam Love
Cultural Arts Coordinator

carrie_staff_photoCarrie Leilam Love is an artist and freedom fighter from Oakland, CA. She writes short stories and poems about love and struggle. Sometimes she does narrative based performance art. She’s been a teaching artist and arts administrator in the Bay Area for 10 years. She is the daughter and sister of formerly incarcerated black men and goes hard to smash the prison industrial complex in their names and in solidarity with incarcerated people world wide.





Chantal Coudoux
Associate Development Director

chantal_profileChantal graduated from Scripps College with a BA in politics with a focus on race theory and social justice. She has volunteered with Dignity and Power Now for the last two years. She focuses on development and programmatic work with Success Stories. Prior to her time at Dignity and Power Now, Chantal worked with a Los Angeles based civil rights organization doing policy advocacy and community organizing. She is a big fan of cats, fútbol, bachata, and The Backstreet Boys.





Salimah Hankins, Esq.
Director of Legislative Advocacy

salimah_profileSalimah Hankins is a human rights activist, community organizer, attorney, creative-writer, dancer, cyclist, street-art-enthusiast, and a traveler. Before starting as the Director of Legislative Advocacy at Dignity and Power Now, she served as the CERD Consultant for the United Nations’ “Race Treaty” (CERD) review for the US Human Rights Network. Salimah has advocated for the rights of low-income clients of color as a civil rights attorney at the ACLU of Maryland and the Fair Housing Justice Center. She has also served as a legislative aide to a Massachusetts state senator, director of human rights for a Brooklyn-based human rights organization, prisoners rights law clerk at a Boston-based civil rights law firm, and a pro bono attorney for a variety of civil rights groups. She has also given lectures, presented her research at conferences, and published in a variety of journals. Salimah is originally from New Orleans and has called Boston, Baltimore, and Brooklyn home. She currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband who teaches literature (with a focus on race and gender) at the college level. Salimah enjoys reading about and fighting for the liberation of oppressed peoples, and snuggling with her cat, Malcolm.


Baltimore Solidarity Statement

To the People of Baltimore who are Resisting Police Terror:

Dignity and Power Now sees and supports you. We know that you are not thugs, you are freedom fighters. We know that the first rock was thrown by the state. We know that you have been suffering the rocks of poverty, systemic racism, trans and homophobia, and misogyny hailing down for all your lives. Too often these rocks are police bullets or beatings so vicious they kill you or your loved ones.

We revel in the miracle of your resilience against this brutal tyranny. We rejoice in your organized and passionate rebellion against police terror. We know that your resistance has forced the Baltimore DA to file charges against the police who murdered Freddie Gray. We recommit in your honor to our work supporting the needs of incarcerated people and their loved ones. We recommit in your honor to our work to abolish the prison industrial complex, the only true justice and the only way to be sure there will never be another Freddie Gray. We know that none of us are free until we’re all free. We know that your fight in Baltimore is for our freedom too.

In Solidarity,
Dignity and Power Now

Photo: John Taggart—EPA