“Today advocates can claim a significant victory in the fight against the Los Angeles County $3.5 billion dollar jail expansion. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl have had a change of heart about the planned construction for a women’s jail in Lancaster adjacent to the Mira Loma County Jail, and Supervisors Hahn and Barger support reevaluating the jail plan and prioritizing community based services and alternatives. We have organized as members of the Justice LA campaign, led by directly impacted communities, and we have gathered research making the case to stop the construction to avoid the deep generational harms that would come with this $3.5 billion dollar jail expansion. Not only is it a continuation of toxic policies, but the soil on which the women’s jail is proposed is itself toxic and would expose people caged there and working there to valley fever, which could be deadly. Furthermore, the proposed mental health jail goes against the phenomenal mental health diversion programs being implemented by Los Angeles County’s own Office of Diversion and Reentry.
We are encouraged that the voices of our communities are being heard. We know that all people suffer physical and mental health issues as a consequence of being caged. For people who are houseless, have mental health needs or problematic substance use, jail only worsens their conditions and tears them apart from their loved ones. We are not interested in a gender responsive jail, but we are interested in gender responsive care and supportive services for people outside of the jail system.
We know that primarily Black and Latinx women, including the most vulnerable population of LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people, are harmed by racist criminalization in our communities – as well as an uncaring toxic jail system. Latinx women make up forty percent of the women’s LA County jail population. Black women only make up 9% of the general population in LA County, but make up a whopping thirty percent of the women in the LA County jail system.
We look forward to conversations about how to move funds once planned for jails expansion toward a newly imagined system of care – conversations that must have direct input form people that have been impacted by criminalization and mass incarceration.”