Getting a Finger on the Pulse With Diana Zuñiga

Interviewing Diana ZunigaCatching up with Diana Zuñiga isn’t easy these days. If she’s not testifying before the LA County Board of Supervisors against the construction of an unneeded Mira Loma women’s jail, she’s helping to organize the recent Justice On Trial Film Festival at Cal State Long Beach. Or organizing a Custody Town Hall with jail officials and the Sheriff Department’s inspector general. Or just generally fomenting outrage and focusing attention on California’s woefully inadequate approach to criminal justice.

In just two years as California statewide field organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Diana has made a significant impact. Working out of Los Angeles, she provides leadership and support to county-level struggles around realignment, while developing a deeper base for CURB in Southern California. Diana holds a BA in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies with a minor in Psychology from Loyola Marrymount University.

Diana recently found time to share her thoughts with Justice Not Jails’ Peter Laarman.

Peter Laarman: We know that for you, as for many others in the movement, doing this work is personal–it’s partly rooted in the experience of a family member or someone else they know. Can you say something about this in your case?

Diana Zuñiga: This has always been a hard thing for me to talk about, but I think with a growing community of folks that I know have experienced similar things I have been more confident in my vulnerability. I also think that it has led me to think about my space while articulating the stories of my loved ones that are or have been incarcerated.

Their stories are theirs. My experience as a result of their stories is what initially drew me to the work of dismantling the criminal injustice system. Through my journey in discovering that I wanted to focus my energy on this work, I delved through the stories of each of my loved ones who had been directly impacted by the system.

Stories of trauma, abandonment, physical and emotional violence, racism, mental health diagnosis, unfair sentences and substance use. Stories of love, resilience, growth, hope, community and shifts in perceptions. The more I got in touch with these stories, the more I got in touch with myself and I realized that these are not isolated incidents.

The stories of my family are the stories of millions of people who are or have been incarcerated in a prison, jail or detention center. I felt like I needed to do something in some capacity to start breaking away at the system. I began by direct service work with at-risk youth where I saw the continued cycles of incarceration, poverty, and lack of resources that impacted each of them in unique ways.

I then realized that I wanted to do something on a macro level by working on propositions through the Latino Voters League, and policy through the Drug Policy Alliance. But it’s also true that my first experience challenging this system’s impact on my family was as an 11-year-old at a Families to Amend California Three Strikes Law Rally. This first familial experience is what called me to this work and I think the connection I heard and felt in my community and work experience is what has kept me going.

Peter Laarman: CURB is well known for its ferocity and for its determination to change the system fundamentally, not just tinker around the edges. Where does that uncompromising spirit come from?

Diana Zuñiga: The founding members of CURB, member organizations, and people that are most directly impacted make up our vast network. All these people are the essence of the uncompromising and transparent presence we hold in this movement.

I believe some of that spirit comes from the founding members of the coalition who continue to guide us and teach us to understand the lessons from the past in the present decisions we are making. Much of what we are fighting now—like gender responsive jails and mental health jails—are duplicated narratives that are pieces of the expansion of the carceral state we live in.

These narratives and the continued lack of transparency in the bureaucratic process we have to navigate can be used to fragment us into tiny subcategories of fights. However, I think as a coalition of diverse members we carry the basic principles that open us up to fighting the prison industrial complex through many different lenses, while still holding the same goals of dismantling a system that has hurt our families and intricately worked to push us out of the process.

Interviewing Diana ZunigaI know that with the historical knowledge and the commitment of our member organizations we intentionally work towards amplifying the real life experiences of the community we advocate for. The strength and change that CURB envisions is truly a collective effort that works for a sustainable world for everyone because everyone deserves that.

Peter Laarman: People say that it’s not enough to end the mass incarceration of (mainly) people of color, that you also have to change the brutal economic system within which mass incarceration functions. What’s your response to that?

Diana Zuñiga: I agree. I believe CURB was created and functions to push back against carceral expansion and generate a vision of an economic system that helps people when they need the help, and enables people to flourish.

I was recently on a panel that focused on the challenging economic environment that we are all currently living through. Being that I always talk about policy and changes in the prison and jail system, I was a bit nervous. I reached out to a mentor from one of our member organizations, David Stein, who has done extensive work in this area and is really brilliant in connecting all the dots.

After our conversation I realized even more how connected these two issues are. The statistics continue to show that black and brown people are the majority of the folks incarcerated. And historically what we know is that deinsititutionilzation, deindustrialization, and social disparities have been used to push people of color and low-income people out of opportunities.

We know that after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington one of the basic demands promoting a federal demand to guarantee meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages for all workers has not even been met. Let’s imagine that we were able to get this demand met 50 years ago or even today. How many people would this impact? How many people would we be able to add to the economic development of California and our nation?

Let’s also imagine that people that were coming out of incarceration were not pushed out of meaningful work because of their history. How many people would that keep from cycling into the system again? And finally let’s imagine if our country focused on the meaningful impacts that our immigrant community brings to our economic development instead of creating laws to push them out. What would our world look like?

In essence I agree that an end to mass incarceration needs to be met with an economic environment that meets people where they are at and guides them towards a more sustainable life with meaningful opportunities.

Peter Laarman: You and CURB are at the center of the fight to block construction of a huge new jail in LA County. It’s so odd that County officials will say one minute that it’s time to divert more people away from jail (the mentally ill, for example) but then in the very next minute they are moving to advance the jail plan. Is it possible that there are powerful pro-jail forces at work behind the curtain, so to speak–especially when there’s really no credible public rationale for spending all that money on a new jail?

Diana Zuñiga: Yes, there are several powerful pro-jail forces at work. Expansion is not a new thing and the form of expansion that is marketing law enforcement as social service providers has been present for a long time.

Los Angeles in particular has been the hub of an increasing presence of law enforcement, surveillance, racial profiling, and violence that has continued to influence this trend, statewide and nationally. Los Angeles has had a strong and powerful law-enforcement presence, and this is the framework the city and county governments have worked through for so long that they’ve had a hard time looking at anything different.

I also think that it doesn’t help that the state of California is sending down billions of dollars to Los Angeles and other counties for nothing more than to build jails. Why we are not building permanent and affordable housing when LA needs about 5,000 units to modestly decrease the amount of people that are homeless is the question that I believe we already have the answers to.

During the past 35 years in California we have seen the great prison boom that resulted in 25 prisons and only 3 public universities being built. And now we see these same pro-incarceration forces work to lobby our state and local officials to create a jail boom resulting in 41 out of 58 counties attempting to build new jails.

As much as these things seem hopeless, I’m hopeful that the tide is shifting in our favor. We’ve been doing things wrong for too long. With the approval of $20 million for diversion, possible federal oversight, and the community activation that stopped the transfer of 512 people to another county I think our movement is strong in Los Angeles County. I remain hopeful that something is bound to change especially due to the work of organizations like Youth Justice Coalition, Critical Resistance, LACAN, Dignity and Power Now, and so many others.

Peter Laarman: You are one of the movement leaders who never seems to rest. You carry huge responsibilities not just here in LA but also in Sacramento. You are also constantly uncovering new official shenanigans that you then have to raise hell about and combat. How do you sustain yourself at that huge level of output? How do you keep from burning out? Is there a spiritual discipline that helps keep you going?

Diana Zuñiga: That is still a huge process. Burnout in our line of work happens to everyone, but for me I have really relied on listening to my body. My body knows when I need to rest and when I am pushing too hard that will result in low quality output.

peter laarmanbask in the community moments we have and in the small victories that we experience collectively in Sacramento and in LA. I spend time with loved ones whenever possible and with the people that I believe bring positivity to my life. I know that constantly being in contact with my family members who are still in the system continues to inform my work and brings hope that one day we will change things so that another person’s dad, mother, or other loved one will not have to live through these stories.

I am still figuring out my spiritual discipline, but it consists of lots of dreaming, visioning, meditating, and dancing that I believe brings me balance in a world and movement that experiences such chaos.

About Peter Laarman

Rev. Peter Laarman is volunteer project coordinator for Justice Not Jails. Until the end of last year he was the executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, a network of activist individuals and congregations headquartered in Los Angeles. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for ministry.

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Letter to the Editor: Behind Bars

Behind bars

Printed in the SF Chronicle on Oct. 7th, 2014

I agree with “Jails are jammed with those who can’t afford bail” (Open Forum, Oct. 3). San Francisco needs bail reform and not a new jail. The piece brings up important concerns about the racial impact of making bail too expensive, especially for poor people.

I’d like to add that the people locked up in San Francisco’s jail are 56 percent African American, an appalling statistic given that black people only make up approximately 6 percent of the total population after the startling increase of gentrification and displacement of poor people and people of color.

This should be a huge concern to the sheriff, the Board of Supervisors and everyone in San Francisco. This is just one more reason for the county to cancel this unnecessary and expensive jail plan all together!

Emily Harris, Oakland

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The waste, inequity of filling jails with those who can’t make bail

Today the San Francisco Chronicle printed an important opinion piece by the San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi and Naneen Karraker a member of Taxpayers for Public Safety. “The waste, inequity of filling jails with those who can’t make bail.” 628x471

Did you know that: “In San Francisco, 85 percent of the roughly 1,300 inmates in county jail haven’t been convicted of anything. That’s more than 1,000 men and women. They are there not because they have been found guilty but because they simply cannot afford bail.”

Basically, if you are poor in San Francisco you are more likely to stay incarcerated even if you have not been found guilty of anything!

Their piece makes a strong argument for how more pre-trial services and bail reform would reduce our jail population even further, making the Sheriff’s claim that we need a new jail obsolete. 

As opportunities to push for bail reform, more pretrial diversion programs and canceling the jail plan arise we will be sure to keep you posted. In the mean time there are three steps you can take to keep the pressure on!

1) Help us make this article “go viral” by sharing it on your social media:


2) Join us in signing this Open Letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors: We Can’t Afford a New County Jail! 

3) Attend our poster printing party with the San Francisco Print Collective on November 1st!  More details here!

We will send along more exciting details about the campaign to stop San Francisco from building a new jail soon!

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Nov 4th: Locked Down, Locked Out – Bay Area Book Launch & Conversation

Please help spread the word…


Join us November 4th, for conversation, snacks, beverages, contemplation and celebration, for the Bay Area launch of “Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better“!

Author Maya Schenwar will read from her book and discuss the impact of prison on families and communities – and how people around the country are taking action to create a world without prison.

CURB will also have two special speakers there!

  • Alex Berliner, new Organizer with All of Us or None a Project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, will talk about her experience with having a loved one inside.
  • Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), will speak about the movement to reduce prison populations and close prisons throughout the state of California.

Join CURB members, allies, friends for conversation, snacks, beverages, contemplation and celebration!

Maya interviewed me about CURB for the publication and now thanks to her, all royalties from book sales at the event will go to CURB!
See Michelle Alexendar and Angela Davis’ reviews of the book on our event RSVP.

Can’t make it to the event?  Make a donation to CURB in solidarity!

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You have until Oct. 6th!


Dear Supporter,

Jails are ruining the health and well being of our communities!

The LA Chief Executive office says that the environmental review process will take place, but there are signs that old background documents are being used and reason for concern that the process may not include very important health hazards known to the county health officials about the Antelope Valley’s high rate of Valley Fever infection, especially among people who have not grown up there. We know them well enough to remain skeptical and keep fighting.

This is one of the many reasons why we need you to take action before Oct. 6th when the public comment period is over! 

After you take action, save these dates:

1) The Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to renew the LA jail’s relationship with ICE. Our allies, ICE out of LA, will be at the meeting to speak out against renewing this contract, and we want you to be there! can you join them? RSVP here!

Where: 500 W Temple Street, LA

When: Tuesday, September 30th at 8:30am

2) Then, join us at the Dignity and Power Now Custody Town Hall, a panel discussion about the LA county Sheriffs department custody division. We will be discussing a range of topics, from the sheriff’s use of force, to alternatives to incarceration. RSVP here! 

Where: Meracado la Paloma, 3655 S Grande Ave, LA

When: Thursday, October 2nd, 6-8pm.

I hope to see you at this two upcoming events!

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Environmental Hazards at Proposed Women’s Jail Site!

Dear Supporter,

Jails are ruining the health and well being of our communities!

Last week, some of the Los Angeles No More Jails group attended the Initial Environmental Impact meeting and today some of us are at the Board of Supervisors to make sure they follow this process.

We were alarmed to hear last week that the site has hazardous material above and beneath it, has poor air quality, and that the potential for infectious disease and increased water use in an area already suffering from a historic water shortage.

We were therefore shocked to find out last night that there is a push to exempt this project from the environmental impact review process required by state law.

The Board of Supervisors is potentially authorizing the building of a women’s jail that hasn’t had an Environmental Impact Review since at least 1997.

Please send a letter to the Chief Executive Office and all members of the LA Board of Supervisors right now.

We are asking that the project go through the full environmental impact review process as well as that there be two additional public meetings with legitimate notice to the community so that we can discuss these issues before the final report is drafted.

We know that the people in women’s jails – already the residents of Los Angeles most impacted by environmental hazards and the epidemics of disease – don’t deserve another jail that will be bad for their health and well-being. Make sure that the County Supervisors know you are watching and expect them to protect the health and environmental well-being of all the county’s residents.  Please make our voice heard today.

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Catch Ruthie Gilmore in LA! Twice this week

Dear Supporter,

Thursday, Sept. 25th:

“Too Soon for Sorry: Abolition Geography and the Problem of Innocence”

Friday/Saturday, Sept. 26/27:

Justice on Trial Film Festival

I’m thrilled to announce that Professor Ruthie Wilson Gilmore, is speaking at Pitzer College on September 25th!  Ruthie Gilmore is a founding member of CURB and also part of our National Advisory Board.

As a student at the Claremont College, and an intern with CURB, I was so excited to hear that Professor Gilmore had been selected to give the 26th Annual Sojourner Truth Lecture. As CURB and LA No More Jails Coalition continues fighting the $2.3 billion jail expansion plans in LA county, I am looking forward to her visiting our campuses to speak on the ongoing strides against the Prison System.

Her lecture “Too Soon For Sorry: Abolition Geography and the Problem of innocence” will begin at 7:30pm Thursday 25th of September in the McConnell Founders Room at Pitzer College.

Another amazing event this weekend, on the 26th from 5-9pm and 27th 5-9pm, is the Justice on Trial Film Festival at the Cal State Long Beach University Theater! 

They will be screening When Will the Punishment End, Elementary Genocide, Crime After Crime, and other great films, which are all focused on the current carceral regime. Ruthie Gilmore will also be a featured speaker at the Justice on Trial Film Festival! Get your tickets here!

Spread the word about these two great events and I hope to see you there!

Thank you,

Claire Hirschberg
Policy & Advocacy Intern
Californians United for a Responsible Budget

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Community Members Raise Environmental Impact Concerns of Controversial Los Angeles Women’s Jail Build

For Immediate Release – Sept 17, 2014


MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Zuñiga, Californians United for a Responsible Budget or 213-864-8931

What: Public Environmental Impact Report and Scoping Meeting
When: Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Where: American Heroes Park – Community Room, 701 W. Kettering Ave., Lancaster.
Who: Advocates, community leaders, and concerned citizens will be there for public comment.

CURB’s Letter RE Initial Environmental Impact Report 9.17.14

Los Angeles— Plans to build a new 1,604-bed jail for women in the City of Lancaster at the vacant Mira Loma Detention Center have generated responses of confusion and outrage in Los Angeles County and across the state.  At Thursday’s public scoping meeting citizens are asking for two additional public meetings to be scheduled after the first Draft Environment Impact Report (DEIR) is released—one meeting in Lancaster and one in the greater Los Angeles area—and they demand the DEIR be translated into Spanish to allow for more public input into this process.  They are demanding that the Environmental Impact Study address, in depth, the environmental conditions that would impact the health of those who would be incarcerated on the premises as well as their families and children, and people employed at the jail.

“The City of Lancaster and Los Angeles County do not need more jail cells, and there isn’t any support in the community to build them,” says César M. Vega Magallón of Antelope Valley Dream Team.  “Lancaster residents, like the rest of Los Angeles County, struggle every day with substandard housing, over-crowded schools, a lack of social services, low-wage jobs, dirty industry mixed in with residential sites, industrial truck traffic, few healthy fooScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 12.39.36 PMd outlets, and severe air pollution.  The proposed cost of building and operating yet another jail in the Antelope Valley would best be spent on resources that preempt the need for jails.  For the growing Latino and immigrant populations in the AV, funding prisons and jails over the community’s basic necessities is irresponsible at best, and at worst it’s downright destructive.”

The initial report states the location has non-attainment for Particulates and has severe non-attainment for Ozone, which can negatively impact the health of people in this particular region.  Ozone is a cause of asthma and has been determined to cause harmful effects on people with respiratory issues and other vulnerabilities.

“The proposed women’s jail will pull families apart and damage the health of the people incarcerated.  Realignment was implemented to help prisoners’ transition into the community and keep them closer to their supportive network.  Sending people from Lynwood to Lancaster, a nearly 80 mile commute, will interfere with their ability to interact and be with their loved ones, the very people who aid in the process of rehabilitation and overcoming the traumas of imprisonment,” says Cindy Delgado of the Youth Justice Coalition. “The imprisoned women of Los Angeles need support and alternatives based in the community, not another jail that will destroy their health and well-being.”

The site is “identified in government databases as having a hazardous waste generator and is [also] the site of aboveground and underground fuel storage tanks,” according to the initial report.  Previous studies reported in an article titled Death Dust, by Dana Goodyear, in the New Yorker (January 2014) states, “The highest rate of infection is in the Antelope Valley, a rapidly developing outpost of the county that adjoins the southern edge of the San Joaquin Valley.  In the past decade, the number of [valley fever] cases has increased by five hundred and forty-five percent.”  There is no analysis of valley fever in the initial report.

“We don’t need more jails,” Mary Sutton of Critical Resistance. “There are dozens of innovative policy initiatives used in other counties that have proven to reduce the jail population, increase public safety and save taxpayer dollars.  Why not implement them in Los Angeles?  Not to mention all the health implications that come along with this irresponsible and costly jail plan.”

Lastly, in consideration of California facing a historic drought, the initial report further notes that Antelope Valley has been engaged in a drawn out adjudication process to decide if property owners or public water suppliers have the rights to the scarce amount of water available.

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Exposing a national crisis in Black mental health behind bars

Printed September 10, 2014 in the SF BayView

by Mark-Anthony Johnson

When Dr. Samuel Cartwright coined the term “drapetomania” in 1864, he advanced a historical agenda to secure Black subjugation in America. Cartwright’s diagnosis of the desire for freedom amongst enslaved Africans as a form of psychosis exposes two important realities about mental health in the United States.On Aug. 12, Mark-Anthony Johnson and Lynwood social worker Kristina Ronnquist pause at the entrance of the United Nations in Geneva, where they submitted the Dignity and Power Now report, “Impact of Disproportionate Incarceration and Abuse of Black People with Mental Health Conditions in World’s Largest Jail System“ for review of U.S. compliance with the International Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

On Aug. 12, Mark-Anthony Johnson and Lynwood social worker Kristina Ronnquist pause at the entrance of the United Nations in Geneva, where they submitted the Dignity and Power Now report, Impact of Disproportionate Incarceration and Abuse of Black People with Mental Health Conditions in World’s Largest Jail System.“ for review of U.S. compliance with the International Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

First, the mental health of people of color in the United States, specifically Black people, is not a neutral arena. It is a critical battleground where racist ideologies have leveraged medical justifications for restricting Black people’s freedom.

Secondly, the mental health infrastructure in the United States, and lack thereof, is an expression of the historical agenda that Dr. Cartwright’s claim to fame represents. Promoting “drapetomania” as a clinical diagnosis only a year before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed posed strategic value to the Confederacy, which was being threatened by a civil war and needing to refine its justifications for chattel slavery in the United States.

The current crisis of criminalizing and incarcerating Black people with mental health conditions across the country is an extension of these two historical trends.

Dignity-Power-Now-UN-report-cover-0814Over a period of two days, the United States was questioned and challenged by 18 U.N. committee experts who critiqued the nation’s deficiencies in addressing racial disparities. Our shadow report was an intervention not only in the local county conversation, but also on an international stage to expose a national crisis of criminalizing Black people’s mental health in the United States.

What does this crisis look like?

On any given day, Black people are six times more likely than White people to be incarcerated in the United States, and 63 percent of those Black people in local jails across the country have some form of a mental health condition (2006). Los Angeles makes key contributions to this trend, as Black people are 9 percent of the county population and 43.7 percent of its jail population diagnosed with “serious mental illness.”

Dignity & Power Now UN report cover 0814The factors that account for this disproportionate impact are numerous. Black people, for example, are more likely to be misdiagnosed and at the same time less likely to receive the most effective treatments. Black people with mental health conditions are two to three times more likely than people of other races to be incarcerated as limited access to services increases the risk of incarceration.

The lack of community services, barriers to accessing them and lack of quality treatment upon access results in a systemic equation whereby “treatment” for Black people means incarceration.

Los Angeles is the largest jail system in the world. Additionally, the three largest mental health “treatment” facilities in the country – Los Angeles’ Twin Towers, Chicago’s Cook County Jail, and Rikers Island in New York – are all jail facilities.

In fact the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that California needed to reduce its overcrowding that was exposing prisoners to greater risks of violence, medical neglect and abuse, lack of mental health care, and death. The realization that jails operate as de facto mental health facilities has gained more traction in recent years; however, the response has not been comprehensive or substantial enough to remedy the problem.

The situation of the mentally ill in jail is so dangerous and oppressive that the Department of Justice found unconstitutional conditions for the mental health population in  LA County Jail system (May 2014) and a high level of physical abuse and the violations of rights for adolescents in New York’s Rikers Island Jail – particularly those with mental health conditions (August 2014). That tells us that the crisis persists.

Dr. Samuel Cartwright’s term “drapetomania,” coined in 1864, labeled the desire for freedom amongst enslaved Africans as a form of psychosis.
In fact, since the Civil Rights of Incarcerated Peoples Act was passed in 1997, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has found violations of the constitutional rights of people with mental health conditions in 35 correctional facilities across 25 states. Los Angeles is just one of the more recent exposures.

Despite these conditions, the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has no mechanism for the regular collecting of intersectional data based on the race and gender of incarcerated people with mental health conditions across the country. This creates serious barriers to monitoring the local and national trends.

Why is Los Angeles relevant?

As Los Angeles County develops plans for the diversion of people with mental health needs from the jails, it is also expanding jail capacity. It continues to stay the course despite the copious evidence and stories from our loved ones leaving the jails, that incarceration exacerbates mental health conditions.

In fact, in recent years there has been a movement for specialized detention facilities that are being couched as more responsive to the needs of prisoners. Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) has been pushing back against the county and state push for “gender responsive” prisons and jails – the tagline for women’s facilities.

Though Los Angeles County claims to be planning to divert many mentally ill people from jail, its new jail plan is to tear down Men’s Central and erect a new “mental health jail” for the high number of mentally ill in the jail now.

Guest commentary in the LA Daily News by Patrisse Cullors-Brignac of Dignity and Power Now (DPN) and Diana Zuñiga of CURB explains why those of us fighting jail expansion think A mental health jail is an oxymoron; diversion is what’s needed.

The push for category specific incarceration further entrenches our loved ones into a system that cannot protect their rights, safety or humanity. In fact, Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald recently reported to the Board of Supervisors that there has been a 47 percent increase in use of force at Century Regional Detention Facility, Los Angeles County’s dedicated women’s jail facility.

She attributed this increase to the rise in the mental health population at the facility. The pursuit of both mental health diversion and jail expansion undermines any comprehensive effort to address the crisis at its root.

A comprehensive diversion program would make use of services that have already proven to be effective, including Full Service Partnerships and Aggressive Community Treatment. Additionally, it is important that we are imaginative in how we envision the services our people deserve.

Job training and permanent job placement, permanent housing, and supportive services that include the intimate networks of those directly impacted are key to the long-term sustainability of mental health diversion.

The logic underlying the continuation and funding of the mass incarceration of the disproportionately Black mentally ill and Dr. Cartwright’s medical breakthroughs is the same: Black people’s mental health cannot be achieved, so society has to maintain extreme and inhumane restrictions on their freedom.

Mark-Anthony Johnson is a member of Dignity and Power Now (DPN) ( DPN, a multi-racial grassroots organization in Los Angeles and a member organization of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), fights for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and survivors of sheriff violence and their families with the goal of ending state violence and mass incarceration. Mark-Anthony and DPN can be reached at and can receive mail at the CURB LA office: P.O. Box 73688, LA CA 90003.



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Thank You from #NoMoreJails

Dear Supporter,

My name is Christina and I have been working with Los Angeles No More Jails (LANMJ) as a member of Critical Resistance LA for the past few months.  I am now taking the CURB Media Internship to help our Los Angeles crew persuade more Angelenos to stand up and speak out against jail expansion.

Los Angeles No More Jails is thanking all of you for coming out and participating in our #NoMoreJails Caravan last month.

I was inspired to see so many people from various organizations in Southern California all teaming up to voice their opposition to the proposed construction of the 1,604-bed jail for women at the former Mira Loma Detention Center.

It was amazing to see the use of the hashtag #NoMoreJails across several social media platforms, which captured the momentum of the day and still continues to extend the life of our unified opposition against expansion.

Thank you to all that came out to document and experience this important day.  Our presence was seen and felt through the inspiring photographs taken from our rally at Lynwood and creative action in Lancaster, and also the media coverage that we continue to share out. 

Expansion is happening everywhere, and we are sick of it.  This wasn’t our first fight and it won’t be our last.  Thanks again for your continued support in strengthening this fight against expansion. And please contact us if you want to get more involved!

Looking forward,

Christina Tsao
Media Intern for Californians United for a Responsible Budget


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