By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO | Metropolis Information Company
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday, June 22, to set up a team to implement the prolonged-promised closure of Men’s Central Jail.
Supervisor Hilda Solis mentioned it was time to prevent learning the difficulty and consider motion, co-authoring a movement getting that the decrepit downtown lockup should be demolished and that no substitute jail is wanted.
“We have lengthy talked about why we need to shut this jail. The jail has been tainted by mismanagement, corruption (and) mistreatment of people incarcerated in its cells,” Solis mentioned.
Solis — who championed a vote past July to near the jail within a yr — said multiple experiments, which include a March 2021 report by the MCJ Closure Workgroup, provide the needed roadmap.
The workgroup’s report estimates that it will take 18-24 months to near the jail. It envisions redistributing some of the inmate populace across other correctional facilities over time, whilst also releasing about 4,500 folks at this time powering bars to household plans or into neighborhood cure.
“We have identified … all we need to have to near MCJ,” Solis explained. “It’s substantial time we roll up our sleeves and get it finished.”
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who forged the dissenting vote, pushed back again versus the plan that it was time to act, warning that the county doesn’t have ample neighborhood procedure means in put to accommodate susceptible inmates suffering from psychological sickness or battling habit.
Barger said the county experienced to return $6 million in state funding earmarked for these types of community programs due to the fact it hadn’t located a way to deploy the revenue.
“If we are not able to spend dollars getting handed to us for these expert services, how can we anticipate to create up the beds required?,” Barger mentioned. “For the final 5 many years, we have been stating we’re likely to develop 4,000 additional beds and still we haven’t. How are we heading to do this in the upcoming 24 months?”
Barger warned that the county could be pressured by federal authorities to establish a new jail towards the board’s will and predicted that the Department of Justice would be critical of the supervisors’ decision.
She supplied an amendment contacting for a report back again in 60 times, suggesting that a group arrive up with a timeline for developing neighborhood capability in advance of any board vote on the closure.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the closure movement, reported she appreciated Barger’s sentiment, but feared the proposed modification would only slow the inescapable process of shutting down Men’s Central Jail.
“We’re ready now in a way we’ve under no circumstances been ahead of,” Kuehl said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva also warned the board versus going ahead with the approach.
“Releasing 4,500 inmates on to the streets is not a lawful alternative for the county … and seeking to cram 12,500 inmates into 8,500 beds is … unconstitutional,” Villanueva mentioned.
Supporters of closing the jail argue that the inmate inhabitants can be diminished dramatically by releasing people today awaiting trial for non-violent crimes and treating those people suffering from mental illness in a local community placing. Quite a few point to the remarkable reduction in the jail population attained in the course of the peak of the coronavirus pandemic as evidence of this chance.
Supervisor Janice Hahn also reminded the board that much more than 3,000 inmates at present in county jails are becoming held there owing to a pandemic-similar moratorium on transfers to state prisons.
The sheriff, who has lengthy experienced an antagonistic relationship with the board, asserted his authority.
“Government code part 22605 plainly states that the sheriff operates the county jail, and I have full intention to have out my mandate,” he reported.