LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to cancel plans for a new jail in downtown Los Angeles.
Before the board meeting this morning, protesters called for an end to the $1.7 billion contract to build a replacement for Men’s Central Jail. The protesters said the county should instead use that money to fund more mental health facilities and treatment alternatives — an idea supported by County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who introduced the motion to cancel the contract.
“We’re about to make history today,” Eunisses Hernandez of JusticeLA said to the crowd. “Generations of our people have actually been at this fight for nearly a decade.”
Solis said the Rand Corporation was conducting a study to find out how many inmates could benefit from mental health treatment instead of incarceration. She said the board’s vision required a new set of experts ready to employ a health-centered approach.
“I don’t want to see people who are just used to building brick and mortar,” Solis said. “I want to see people who have a humanistic approach.”
The motion passed 4-1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger casting the lone vote of dissent.
“I know that there are those out there that have a false narrative that by getting rid of Men’s Central Jail that there’s not going to be an increase anywhere,” Barger said. “I guarantee you, there will be a need and this board will look at increasing capacity at one of our existing facilities. So for anybody out there that thinks ‘no more jails’ is in play, they are wrong.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva released a statement that said the move was irresponsible. While he said he supports diversion efforts and a “care first” model, he contended the move would leave high-security inmates who are housed in single cells without a place to stay.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)