JLUSA Statement from Los Angeles Campaign Coordinator, Eunisses Hernandez, on the Historic JusticeLA Victory, as the LA County Board of Supervisors Votes to Stop Construction of a $3.5B Women’s Jail

February 13, 2019

February 12, 2019

“As a member of the JusticeLA campaign executive committee, JustLeadershipUSA applauds the LA County Board of Supervisors and especially the leadership of Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, on this historic day in which they have made clear that, “trying to fit mental health treatment into a huge 3,800-bed facility remains mainly a punitive paradigm, not rehabilitative.” We commend the years of organizing by directly impacted communities that brought us to this moment.

With this vote to stop the Mira Loma Women’s Jail, the Board has made their solidarity known to the communities they serve and they have made clear that jails are not the place to serve the needs of women in Los Angeles County. Stopping the plan allows for the County to move forward with an analysis of the services that LA County women most desperately need, and ends a 10-year struggle to stop the building of a new women’s jail. Through the course of this organizing, directly impacted people and advocates along with mental health researchers and experts, have elevated the case for construction of community-based services and treatment centers that can support successful and safe reentry. Today directly impacted communities can claim this hard-fought victory, acknowledging that less than two months ago, the idea that LA County would halt its $3.5 billion dollar jail plan, was unthinkable.

This victory is not without serious concerns. The Board has decided to move forward with a dangerous plan to build a massive “mental health treatment facility” with over 3,800 beds. JLUSA, in solidarity with its Justice LA partners, opposes this plan and will fight to ensure that this proposed massive treatment facility is not built because it is nothing but a jail with a different name. We will hold the Board accountable to the outcomes our communities need and we will ensure that they endorse a decentralized mental health services model that provides community-based mental health and human services throughout LA County. The County should build services in all 5 districts, not a 3,800-bed facility in the middle of Los Angeles. Community-based mental health treatment centers are something that every county must strive toward. Los Angeles now has an opportunity to show every county and city in the United States that healing justice is possible.

This community-based vision is aligned with human dignity and true safety on directly impacted communities’ terms. It is far more cost-effective than a punitive-based model and will create jobs that will cement Los Angeles’ reputation as being on the cutting edge of public health and justice. A decentralized community-based services model will reduce harm, create better treatment and expand a field that prioritizes care over cages.”

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