Another Historic Win for Justice LA as LA County Board of Supervisors Vote to Cancel the McCarthy Contract – Stopping a Massive Downtown Jail

August 13, 2019

Eunisses Hernandez – 323.820.8677 or
Loretta Kane – 917.410.7242 or

Another Historic Win for Justice LA as LA County Board of Supervisors Vote to Cancel the McCarthy Contract – Stopping a Massive Downtown Jail

Justice LA’s Vision: Los Angeles County Must Now Lead the Country in Prioritizing Alternatives to Incarceration and Community-Based Care, Not Cages

LOS ANGELES, California ­—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted today to cancel the Design-Build contract for a massive mental health jail with McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. The Justice LA Coalition has led this transformative fight and called on the Board to allow sufficient time to receive the results of in-progress studies assessing the population with mental health needs which are sure to reflect health expert recommendations to make every effort possible to prevent incarceration  which triggers and exacerbates mental health needs — and to invest in community-based treatment. The Coalition celebrated the historic win with executive committee members present for the historic moment, including: Patrisse Cullors; Californians United for Responsible Budget (CURB); Community Coalition; Critical Resistance Los Angeles; Dignity and Power Now; Immigrant Youth Coalition; JustLeadershipUSA; Revolve Impact; TransLatina Coalition; Youth Justice Coalition

The Justice LA Coalition has for years called on the BOS to cancel jail plans and invest instead in community-based treatment and alternatives to incarceration. Due to the Coalition’s advocacy, the BOS cancelled plans for a women’s jail in February and created the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group which included multi-agency participation as well as participation from community members. The ATI Work Group’s initial recommendations begin to lay out a robust plan for community care, holistic services, decarceration, and supporting people coming back into strong communities. The plan for a new mental health jail that was canceled today,  would have wasted billions in much needed funds for alternatives and community-based treatment.

“This fight has been led by Black and brown Angelenos that have been harmed by mass criminalization and are deeply committed to transforming justice in LA and rejecting the status quo. This vote to cancel new jail construction demonstrates that the County of LA is serious about following the lead of Justice LA organizers to prioritize community-based care and alternatives to incarceration,” says Ivette Alé, Statewide Coordinator, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).

Eunisses Hernandez, LA Campaign Coordinator with Justice LA said, “JustLeadershipUSA is  proud of what we’ve accomplished as partners of the Justice LA Coalition. Together we have effectively moved the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the entire criminal justice landscape to reimagine our collective future and move toward the promise of diversion and re-entry through a justice reinvestment strategy for Los Angeles. This will be life-changing for Black and brown people in Los Angeles including immigrants.”

“Today’s vote is a tremendous victory for the people of Los Angeles, because as someone who was imprisoned for over 19 years, I have seen first hand that the decades of relying on the system of jails has only contributed to more harm for our communities,” said Michael Saavedra, the Los Angeles Organizer for Critical Resistance. “What the Justice LA Coalition achieved today serves as a powerful example nationally that the tide is turning against jail construction in favor of investing in care and support for communities in need.”

Lex Steppling, Director of Campaigns and Policy with Dignity and Power Now, said, “Today the county of Los Angeles took a genuine and tangible step towards the creation of a more just system. For our county, that has so long lead the nation in jailing, we can not understate the magnitude of impact a shift like this can have on communities everywhere. What happens in Los Angeles has implications everywhere, and for the board to rise to the occasion and finally begin dismantling their system of mass punishment and incarceration is tremendous.”


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