For Immediate Release: No More Jails Action on Tuesday, 8/11/15

Contacts:
Diana Zuniga, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Diana@curbprisonspending.org / 213-864-8931

Kim McGill, Youth Justice Coalition / kim@youth4justice.org / 323-327-1259

On the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Community Organizations, People Who Have Been Detained in County Jails, and Our Families and Loved ones will Gather to Push the
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to support creation of an “Office for Diversion Services” and Denounce the Jail Report Released Last Week by Health Management Associates
Supporting Jail Construction

What:  Press Conference, Rally and Public Comment: On the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, community organizations, people who have been detained in County jails, our families and loved ones will gather to ask – What really has changed in a County that still locks up more people than any other place in the world and still has the highest numbers of law enforcement use of force resulting in homicide – both within jails and on the street? Those gathered will push the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to support creation of an “Office for Diversion Services” and to reject the recommendations released last week by Health Management Associates supporting new jail construction. Instead, community leaders will continue to push for a reinvestment in economic strategies and employment opportunities that allow people to support their families; a 50% reallocation of AB109 Realignment dollars; and full implementation of cost effective and humane strategies to decrease the jail population in Los Angeles and break Los Angeles’ long addiction to incarceration.

Where:  Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple, LA, CA 90012

When: 9:30AM • Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Who: The LA No More Jails Coalition, led by people who have been detained in county jails, our families, loved ones, and multiple organizations working to promote alternatives to detention and incarceration including Amity Foundation, C+ CHE, Critical Resistance LA, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Community Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, Drug Policy Alliance, ENLACE, Fair Chance Project, Global Women’s Strike, If the SHU Fits Collaborative, Inglewood Regional Reentry Partnership, Los Angeles Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Los Angeles Labor Fest, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, South Los Angeles Reintegration Council, and the Youth Justice Coalition.

Background:  For the past 4 years, the L.A. NO MORE JAILS COALITION has blocked L.A.’s Multi – BILLION $ jail expansion plan and exposed the back door financing strategies that use Lease Revenue Bonds (LRBs) to fund Construction. LRBs don’t require that officials ask the public to vote whether they want more prison and jails, despite the fact that recent polls confirm that Californians are opposed to new jail and prison construction. Last Tuesday, Health Management Associates (HMA) – hired by L.A. County to assess the size needed for new jail construction – reported back to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Their recommendation was that a new jail is needed at the same or greater size than the most recent plan pushed by the Sheriffs Department.

HMA’s determination was based on flawed data, using projected county population growth as the only determining factor.  HMA:

  1. Did not recognize that crime in Los Angeles has dropped consistently over the past 15 years–reaching the lowest levels since the 1950’s;
  2. Did not acknowledge that L.A. County has invested virtually nothing in community based alternatives to custody;
  3. Did notinclude in their analysis numerous strategies for reducing L.A.’s jail population including use of O.R. (release on own recognizance); bail reform; split sentencing; release of terminally and seriously ill people, elderly and disabled people; or ending the use of jail for low level warrants and misdemeanors;
  4. Supported the call by L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Sheriff McDonnell to create community-based treatment for people with mental health conditions, but did notinclude any population reductions that would be realized through this strategy; and
  5. Repeatedly raised the concern that the there was no “capacity” in the community to provide alternatives to detention and incarceration, implying that this made jail expansion necessary, despite the fact that numerous groups have provided reentry and diversion services for years with little to no public support, and despite the fact that HMA also repeatedly admitted that jail construction is needed because the current jail system also “lacks the capacity needed to adequately care for people.”  Why is lack of community capacity an argument against building alternatives, while lack of jail capacity is an argument for building more jails?

It’s not surprising that HMA produced a report lacking vision, understanding, compassion or common sense. After all, HMA is partly in business to design jail and prison healthcare systems. HMA states on its website that: “Correctional health care is big business. Whether direct service, contract or fully privatized care, HMA has the policy know-how and technical resources to rein in rising costs without compromising care.”

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