jail construction Archives - Dignity and Power Now

What is JusticeLA?

JusticeLA took Los Angeles by storm on September 26th when we launched our campaign to stop the 3.5 billion dollar jail plan by putting 100 replica jail beds in the middle of downtown L.A. in front of Kenneth Hahn Hall, where the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meet. Check out the video below.

Yeah, okay. But what is JusticeLA exactly?

JusticeLA is a coalition. It’s an umbrella group where over 50 organizations have come together to fight a common cause: jail construction in L.A. County. A coalition is kind of like an organization for organizations, and JusticeLA is one of the biggest of its kind!

So is Dignity and Power Now JusticeLA?

Yes! So is Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Community Coalition, Immigrant Youth Coalition, Revolve Impact, TransLatin@ Coalition, Youth Justice Coalition, and 40+ other organizations and counting!

And what do you all do as JusticeLA?

Ultimately we’re calling for a stop to jail construction and expansion in order to fully realize the promise of diversion and re-entry through a justice reinvestment strategy for Los Angeles.

Although JusticeLA has only publicly existed for a little over a month, 3 people have died in the jails during that time. We’ve responded by having a vigil outside of the jails, a powerful town hall meeting in the Antelope Valley where family members spoke, making an altar for Día de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever, and releasing multiple videos including the one below that documents the entire town hall.

We’re now looking for 88 artists who want to shut down the county’s 3.5 billion dollar jail plan by utilizing the jail beds from our campaign launch to create public art projects in each of L.A. County’s 88 cities by December 24th. Submit your proposal here!

How is JusticeLA different from the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence and LA No More Jails?

Good question! Those are separate coalitions with different goals. The organizations in the C2ESV all want to end sheriff violence in the jails and are working towards common goals like effective civilian oversight of the LASD. LA No More Jails is a coalition with the common goal of abolishing all jails in L.A. County, including but not limited to new jail construction. So although you will see a lot of crossover in organization participation, these are separate collectives of organizations with separate goals.

Whether through JusticeLA, the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence, LA No More Jails, or on our own, we at Dignity and Power Now will continue to work to secure dignity and power for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Join us!

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.