Vera Institute Calls on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to Close Men’s Central Jail

Photo: FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

By The Vanguard Staff

Los Angeles, CA – Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board) receiving a detailed plan to close Men’s Central Jail within 18-24 months.

A diverse group of stakeholders, including the Vera Institute of Justice, called on the Board to finally fulfill their pledge to close the notorious jail.

“To accomplish this, the Board must now commit to a clear timeline to close Men’s Central Jail with transparent reporting on its progress; reduce the number of people held in pretrial detention by investing in an independent pretrial services system within the next 3-6 months; and allocate $237 million this year for community-based treatment beds that will reduce incarceration and provide much-needed services for Angelenos,” the Vera Institute said in a statement on Wednesday.

Recently, the Board took a major step toward this goal by voting to create a pretrial services entity that has the potential to significantly, safely, and equitably reduce pretrial detention in Los Angeles County, “but this entity must be fully funded and the county should also expand proven support programs to meaningfully strengthen public safety,” the group said.

Michelle Parris, program director of Vera California at the Vera Institute of Justice said in a statement, “Now is the time for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office, and Los Angeles County Jail Closure Implementation Team to take decisive action and follow through on their previous commitment to close Men’s Central Jail for good.

“They must invest in a ‘care-first’ approach, which means moving away from using jails as the automatic response for community concerns like mental illness, poverty, and substance use disorders and instead investing in and supporting community-based programs and services that will lead to safer outcomes for all Angelenos,” she said. “If our local government works in partnership with community-based leaders on this effort, Los Angeles County will thrive and will provide a template for safe and effective decarceration to other counties across the country.”

A year ago, Vera collaborated with county staff and community stakeholders to develop a robust, “care first” plan to close Men’s Central Jail.

Vera California has since been tracking progress toward this goal through the Care First LA dashboard. This tool showcases how jails are being used in Los Angeles County and tracks the county’s progress in its commitment to decrease the use of incarceration.

Currently, the Los Angeles County jail system has a population of 13,094 with 5,585 of those people held in pretrial detention. Forty-three percent of the jail’s population have mental health needs, a 21 percent increase since 2020.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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