County Jail Transformation Plan
As Sheriff I want to address the increase in crime head on, but at the same time address the problems that persist in the Jail System and Custody Process.
Why change the County Jail System?
Los Angeles County has the largest County Jail System in the United States. 26% of the entire Sheriff Budget is spent on Jails. We must reduce the recidivism of inmates going in and out of the County Jail System. The entire system is flawed due to lack of facility space and proper methods to reduce the revolving door of inmates. The antiquated county jail system has led to many lawsuits into the millions of dollars. I support innovative methods and plan to change the County Jail System from top to bottom.
To be clear, I believe hard core criminals who commit heinous crimes, such as murder, physical assaults, rape etc. must be incarcerated. 54% of inmates fall into this category. But those who are drug/alcohol addicted and or suffer from some forms of mental illness who commit crimes can be treated and their recidivism rates can be reduced.
Board of Supervisor and Voter Approved Changes
In June 2018, the Board of Supervisors approved $42.2 billion to fund a new custody combination jail/clinic. As Sheriff I fully support the demolition of the 58-year-old Men’s Central Jail and replace it with a new mental health and drug step-down type facility that will help incarcerated prisoners’ transition back into the community.
In addition Measure J was approved by voters in November of 2020 which was to allocate 10% of Los Angeles County General Funds for alternatives to incarceration, health services and therapies. Although this measure was ruled unconstitutional on grounds that the Board of Supervisors decides how to spend county funds, the Board of Supervisors decided after the ruling as per their powers, to allocate $187.7 Million on Care First Community Investment for a variety of community programs.
Of the $187.7 Million the County Board of Supervisors specifically allocated $42 Million to close Men's Central Jail (MCJ) and divert some inmates to Community based treatment centers. I support this action, which is part of my overall plan.
I will seek the support of the County Board of Supervisors in this process and if necessary to move forward in this direction, I will seek additional funding from the State of California and or seek public support through a Countywide Bond Measure.
New County Jail Transition Plan
I will conduct a feasibility study to divert or reduce an inmate’s jail time for those that accomplish rehabilitation milestones for early release. Closing MCJ will impact the jail as it will reduce our bed capacity. Again, the Population Management Bureau will conduct an analysis of cause and effect.
I will also seek and obtain design approval, funding and construction of new mental health step down facilities.
Convert existing county owned facilities such as Mira Loma and rancho Los Amigos to Mental Health and Drug/Alcohol Treatment facilities in preparation for court ordered inmates who need treatment.
Build a new facility to replace Men’s Central Jail.
Close Men’s Central Jail.
Mental Illness and Drug Rehabilitation Centers
Mental illness and drug addiction are a contributing factor to some of the increases in crime trends, which affects the overall health of our communities. Everyone wants an end to Crime and Homelessness but who will have the courage to do something that actually has an impact.
In my role, I want to stop the recidivism rates of those that suffer from these two illnesses and change how we treat and handle these inmates in our county jails. To simply house, jail and release them without any treatment does not help to reduce crime rates, the recidivism rate or help society as a whole.
I am willing to work with the Board of Supervisors, District Attorney and State Legislators to help decrease the recidivism that plagues our Justice System. By focusing on changing the system to reduce crime rates, communities can feel safer and feel more secure in their daily lives.
I will create innovative solutions within the custody process for our homeless, mentally ill and substance abuse population that commit crimes. This process will include new rehabilitative and wrap around services that I intend to bring directly into the jail system.
Reducing recidivism greatly benefits the County financial costs, but also the communities and families living within Los Angeles County. We must move forward with modern custody techniques by implementing new rehabilitative care of inmates. The current failures in the jail system have had too many legal and financial losses that cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
My plan for New Rehabilitative Facilities
There will be three dedicated facilities at Mira Loma (north area), New Men’s Central Jail Facility Los Angeles (central area) and Rancho Los Amigos South Campus (south area). These facilities will focus on inmates that suffer from Mental Illness and Substance Abuse. The Sheriff’s Department will be engaged and partnered with neighboring law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and service vendors to ensure the success of these three facilities and associated rehabilitative programs.
In addition, there will be a taskforce consisting of the various County Departments who work at these locations to continuously monitor these rehabilitative programs. This group will consult with other state agencies to ensure the most updated policies and practices are in place. All participating agencies will have a significant role in these facilities, as the LASD cannot solve these problems alone.
Expansion of Rehabilitation/Vocational and Education Programs
The County has had several successful programs that I support the expansion of and I plan to bring new programs into the rehabilitative program. With new programs I will seek outside partnerships and find new funding mechanisms for expansion of these programs such as:
Fire Camp Training (Existing)
Conservation Work Program (Existing)
Education Based Incarceration Program (Existing)
Substance Treatment Re-entry Transition Program (Existing)
Food Handler Certification Program (New)
Animal Trainer Program (New)
Environmental Training Programs (New)
Landscaping Training Programs (New)
I am open to forming partnerships with Skilled Trade Unions to train inmates for high paying skilled jobs to reduce recidivism rates.
Many of these new programs can be formed at our existing facilities and be built and brought into our future facilities.
Financial Impact on the County and Tax Dollars
The costs of recidivism and the costs of housing inmates annually is expensive. Overall the County spends $862 Million Dollars annually on the jail system, which includes inmate care and costs of the Deputies who work the jails. Staffing of jails totals 27% of all Sheriff’s Department Staff and hundreds of millions of dollars in wages and overtime.
L.A. County spends more than $50,000 a year to lock up one person in jail. It currently costs $65,000 a year to house someone with mental health disabilities. These costs can be offset by working with existing county health services to help reduce the financial burden on the Sheriff’s Department budget.
In addition the County has had to defend itself in court for the current substandard facilities and inmate care costing Los Angeles County millions of additional dollars to defend itself in court as it relates to inmate care.
Cost Saving Solutions
There needs to be a better template and staffing plan for custody and courts and administrative units. This template must be updated yearly to ensure better allocation of funds that provide accuracy and accountability of the Sheriff’s Department Budget.
The financial cost of the court system, custody supervision (deputies) vs true rehabilitation is a direction we must follow and is one of many challenges of our Department going forward. Do we want to be the model of success or the model of failure?
I propose being that model of success and working together with The Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney and the Court System to find resolutions and create a state of the art custody and rehabilitative jail system for Los Angeles County.
My overall plan to demolish and rebuild Men's Central Jail and build Mental Illness and Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation facilities will lead to less recidivism and long term savings by design. Violent criminals will be housed in a state of the art facility and those who need rehabilitative services will be treated. These strategies will lead to less overcrowding lawsuits and will lead to less recidivism and a safer public overall.