1,000 Sign Petition, Urge LA Supervisors to Vote Against Sheriff’s Plan

For Immediate Release – January 19, 2012

Los Angeles Residents Oppose $1.4 Billion Jail Expansion

1,000 Sign Petition, Urge Supervisors to Vote Against Sheriff’s Plan

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Phone:  510-444-0484

Los Angeles –1,000 individuals and organizations affiliated with the statewide coalition Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) submitted a petition this morning urging Supervisors to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to vote against a massive jail expansion plan at their upcoming meeting on January 24th.  LA County Sherriff Lee Baca’s plan would cost $1.4 billion to build and $1.26 billion in interest payments. 

According to CURB, Los Angeles County is ranked first in the 20 counties that submitted proposals for Phase II construction funding under the controversial lease revenue bond AB 900.  Los Angeles is eligible to receive $100 million in jail construction funds from Phase II of AB900, to go towards the $1.4 billion dollar construction costs. Sheriff Baca will propose LA County apply for the AB900 money, though he has already submitted an application to state’s Corrections Standards Authority for the funds. The remaining costs would be covered by the county’s Capital Projects/Refurbishments funds, along with over $1 billion in bonds.  Despite an ongoing fiscal crisis in California, similar costly jail expansion projects have continued to mount across the state. AB 900 allocates a total of $7.4 billion in construction funds for adding jail and prison beds and marks the largest prison construction project in human history.  LA County already has the largest jail system in the US.

In a recent evaluation of realignment proposals in 13 Counties, CURB’s “Realignment Report Card” gave Los Angeles an “Incomplete” for investigating the potential for new jail beds. A vote to expand the jail would give Los Angles a “Failing” grade.  The LA sherriff’s massive expansion proposal also comes amidst an ACLU lawsuit filed yesterday charging that “Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his top commanders condoned a longstanding, widespread pattern of violence by deputies against inmates in the county jails.”  The ACLU has documented dozens of stories of violence organized or condoned by sheriffs and deputies in the jail, including brutal beatings and sexual assault.

“The Sherriff’s expansion plan is a scandalous waste,” says Emily Harris, statewide coordinator for the CURB alliance.  “LA residents are very clear that they need resources to go toward life-affirming projects like healthcare, education, and housing.  The last thing LA County needs is to borrow against its future in order to expand this notorious jail. Next Tuesday, county supervisors have an opportunity to chart a new and better course for Los Angeles.” 

As an alternative to jail expansion, CURB’s petition calls for prison realignment funds to be utilized to expand community programs and alternatives to incarceration, citing evidence that diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration save money and improve public safety in both the short and long term.  CURB’s demands in LA County echo their calls for a prison and jail expansion moratorium and reinvestment in social services throughout California.

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