This piece was originally posted on Ella’s Voice, the blog of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

by Emily Harris on Dec 19, 2011

In a few weeks, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors will vote on whether or not to approve Sheriff Baca’s latest plan to rob LA: a new jail that will cost $2.66 billion dollars($1.4 billion to build and $1.26 billion in interest to bankers).  Los Angeles County is one of 25 counties that have been invited by the Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) to submit applications for AB 900 Phase II funding for construction or expansion of county jails.

“What is California doing?” asks Susan Burton, Executive Director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project in Los Angeles. “Don’t we know by now it is bad for all Californians if we build more cages anywhere? This is a terrible investment of our resources, and we must stop it!”

Los Angeles County was ranked highest in priority to receive jail expansion money because it is the county that committed the largest percentage of prisoners to state custody in 2010. “With violent crime at an all time low, Los Angeles locks up more people then any place in the world, especially brown and Black youth, yet we have no money for jobs, youth centers, schools, libraries, and parks,” says Brandy Brown with the Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles.

With the resources Sheriff Baca already has, he has created an international disgrace in LA County jails, where the torture of inadequate medical and mental healthcare and pervasive brutal beatings are routine. It’s time to stop using LA jails as mental health hospitals and homeless shelters. The only sustainable solution to overcrowding is to send less people to jail.

Let’s send the Supervisors a simple and clear message: Vote No on Jail Expansion in LA.

Sign the petition urging LA Supervisors to vote NO on the jail expansion!

LA does not have $2.66 billion dollars to waste on harmful jails. 14.5% of LA residents are unemployed; 40% live without health insurance; and at least 51,000 people are homeless.
What could LA do with $2.66 Billion?

  • $55 million: hire 500 registered nurses
  • $50 million: hire 400 people in the Dept. of Mental Health
  • $55 million: hire 375 people for prevention and early intervention services
  • $366.4 million: Stop Medi-Cal, Mental Health Services, CalWORKs, In-Home Support Services cuts at the state level from hitting LA residents
  • $816 million:End homelessness in LA (rent 40,000 2 bedroom apartments for a year at $1700/month)
  • $1.3 billion: close LAUSD 2011-2013 anticipated budget gaps, save further cuts

Emily Harris is the Statewide Coordinator for Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) a statewide alliance of over 40 organizations working to curb prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in California.  To help us organize and plug into the work in Los Angeles contact Emily Harris!

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