BOS greenlights creation of plan that would close Men’s Central Jail

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a plan to shut down the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, but first, they required a detailed report about the population in custody. 

Their vote came following county Supervisor Kathyrn Barger’s move to amend the motion, initially issued by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, seeking a report expected to include “stakeholder input from law enforcement agencies and municipalities, as well as an assessment of the individuals placed in the facility and where resources currently exist elsewhere in the system to serve these high-need populations,” read a Barger news release. 

“I support efforts to provide meaningful treatment and rehabilitation to those within our custody,” said Barger in a prepared statement. “However, the individuals who are currently placed at Men’s Central Jail include violent criminals and offenders who have significant treatment needs and may not qualify for diversion.” 

The vote greenlights efforts to close the facility, built in 1963, within a year and without a replacement.

Officials have stated that the aging facility has “consistently (ranked) among the ten worst facilities int he country” and that its design and infrastructure contributes “greatly to the county’s inability to provide appropriate medical and mental health care, programming, recreation, and humane living conditions,” according to the motion. 

Officials have also sought to reduce the jail population amid the coronavirus pandemic and recent outbreaks at jails across the southern region. 

“Despite its many hardships, the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that a reduced reliance on incarceration is an achievable goal,” read the motion. 

Shortly after the vote, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted, “The L.A. County Board of Supervisors believes the most vulnerable L.A. County population are criminal offenders. I believe our most vulnerable are the victims of crime.” 

The report is expected to provide detailed and anonymized data regarding those in custody, including offenses by inmates, mental health status and recommendations for diversion versus those who would remain in custody. 

The initial report back to the supervisors will be due in 60 days.

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