LA Supervisors: We Oppose Costly Jail Expansion

January 19 , 2011

Los Angeles Board of Supervisors
383 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles 90012

executiveoffice@bos.lacounty.gov

Fax: (213) 633-5100
Via facsimile and email PDF.
Dear Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors,

We, the undersigned, write to you in strong opposition to the proposal to expand Los Angeles County’s jail capacity in response to realignment (AB 109).  We are affiliated with Community Based Organizations and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) a broad-based statewide alliance of organizations committed to reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in the state, our members live and work in Los Angeles County.

We have been made aware that the Corrections Standards Authority has invited Los Angeles County to apply for $100,000,000 of AB 900 Phase II funding to add 393 beds to our County jail capacity.  In order to receive AB 900 money Los Angeles County must provide a 10% match or $10,000,000 and all annual operating costs. We are also aware that L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has proposed that beyond the $10,000,000 and annual operating costs, Los Angeles County residents foot the additional construction costs of $1.165 billion. We do not support any efforts to expand the jail in our County.  After reviewing Los Angeles County’s Realignment Plan we have strong concerns with using realignment funding or any County general fund money to expand the jail capacity.  Instead, we believe the realignment funding should be utilized to expand community programs and alternatives to incarceration.

As you are probably aware, California counties are already spending anywhere from 70% to 80% of their general fund budgets on public safety and using realignment plan to expand jail capacity could mean the elimination or further reduction of city parks, schools, libraries and municipal support services for youth and elderly populations in the state.

Expanding incarceration has failed to reduce recidivism rates in California and will only create incentives for the Sheriff to fill the new beds, and to incarcerate rather then find other safe options. The Board of Supervisors has the opportunity to use realignment dollars to increase access to rehabilitation services for people in and outside of our jails, while protecting public safety and reducing costs. There is clear evidence that diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration save money and improve public safety in both the short and long term.  The people who will be returning to your county are in need of educational, physical and mental health services, substance abuse and treatment services, and life skills services that could be provided much more cheaply, effectively and comprehensively outside of jail. Strong, independent re-entry services are proven to reduce recidivism and save public dollars.

The State of California decided to fund prisons over all else, it’s time for counties to make a different choice.  Making bold moves to stop jail expansion now means counties will have more resources to solve our problems creatively. We urge you to not seek AB 900 funds or to use any of the realignment funding to expand the Los Angeles County’s jails.

Thank You,

Residents:

Nyabingi Kuti, Director of the Los Angeles Reintegration Campaign

Community Based Organizations:

A New PATH LA –  Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing

A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Action Committee on Women in Prison

All of Us or None

American Civil Liberties Union Southern California

CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement

California Partnership

Conservatives for Social Change

Critical Resistance

Drug Policy Alliance

Enlace

Fair Chance Project

Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes

Justice Policy Center

Labor/Community Strategy Center

Moms United to End the War on Drugs

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Sisters of St. Joseph – Los Angeles

Southern California Library

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Women for Change Foundation

Youth Communist League of Southern California

Youth Justice Coalition

Californians United for a Responsible Budget
1322 Webster St. #210
Oakland, CA 94612

www.curbprisonspending.org

Additional Signatures can be found on our online Petition: LA Supervisors: Stop the Costly Jail Expansion in Los Angeles!