LA Residents Rally Against Controversial Women’s Jail Plan Call for Community-Based Programs and Services

For Immediate Release--March 11, 2013 

Contact: Isaac Ontiveros

Californians United for a Responsible Budget

Ph. 510 517 6612

Who:  LA No More Jails Coalition

What: Rally and Demonstration

When: 10am, March 12, 2013

Where: Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple St., Los Angeles

Los Angeles—On March 12, Los Angeles residents will gather for a rally to oppose the County’s multi-billion dollar jail expansion.   Rally planners and participants hope to deliver a clear message to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors that LA County Sheriff Lee Baca’s proposed new women’s jail, which he has dubbed a  “Rehabilitative Village,” will have a harmful impact on LA communities, particularly on communities of color already suffering the highest rates of incarceration, unemployment, and lack of access to social programs and services.   The Sheriff’s proposed expansion plans could add more than 7,000 beds to what is already one of the world’s largest jail systems.  More than 1,100 of those would be use to cage women.

“Unlike Sheriff Baca, we’ve actually talked to women who have been locked in L.A.’s jails , some of us have been locked in these notorious jails ourselves, so we know what sorts of programs women need to improve their lives,” said Kim McGill, a former prisoner in LA County Jail, who works with the Youth Justice Coalition and the LA No More Jails coalition that is planning Tuesday’s action. “Women don’t need a new jail or a better jail. They need programs in the community that will help them stay on their feet and support their families.”

Advocates have pointed out the irony that the same sheriff’s department that is insisting it is best equipped to develop a new jail culture by providing treatment and programs for incarcerated women is at the same time under multiple investigations for abusing people locked in its jails.

The No More Jails coalition has also been vocal in pointing out the particularly devastating impacts of the jail on women of color.  “Women in the L.A. County jail are mostly poor women and women of color. Incarcerating these women only perpetuates the cycle of violence in their lives”, said Diana Zuñiga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.   “Most of the women locked in LA County Jail were convicted of non-violent crimes, almost half of them are mothers, up to 25% were diagnosed with mental illness, and many of the women have a history of being abused and sexually assaulted.”

“We don’t need these new jail cells, we don’t want these new jail cells, we can’t afford these new jail cells,” said Mary Sutton of Critical Resistance, a member of the No More Jails coalition. “This is another of the Sheriff’s extravagant boondoggles. We can make real reductions in the so-called ‘need’ for jail beds through programs like evidence-based pre-trial assessment, bail reform and community mental health services. How many people are being held pre-trial because they can’t afford to make bail?”

Planners of Tuesday’s rally are calling on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to put a stop the sheriff’s controversial jail expansion plan and instead use the $124 million received from the State in AB109 realignment to fund community-led drug treatment, housing, education, job training.  They are also calling the County to prioritize services and programs for people returning home from prison and jail.

Tuesday’s rally will feature lively expert testimony, music, and art.  Speakers will be available for interviews in English and Spanish.

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