Hundreds Rally Against $1.4 Billion LA Jail Expansion

For Immediate Release—January 23, 2012

Hundreds Rally Against $1.4 Billion LA Jail Expansion

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros | Californians United for a Responsible Budget | 510. 517.6612

What: Press Conference, Rally

When:  Tuesday January 24, 10am

Where:  500 West Temple St., Kenneth Hall Main entrance

Los Angeles—Hundreds of LA residents will be converging on Tuesday’s LA County Board of Supervisors meeting to protest Sheriff Lee Baca’s proposal to spend $1.4 Billion to expand the county’s notorious jail.  As part of the statewide Californians Untied for a Responsible Budget (CURB) alliance, organizations and community members will hold a press conference and rally before the meeting to speak out against the grave social and economic impacts of widening LA’s jail system.  Residents and organizations will also advocate for alternative ways the county could use resources to address public safety, recidivism, and reentry resources without relying on incarceration.

“Los Angeles County has the largest jail system not only in California, but in the entire country,” says Veronica Martinez a Youth Organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition  “Now the Sheriff is trying expanding these facilities without any input at all from the community.  With so many cuts to education and other programs and services, with so many people out of work—this is an outrage.”  YJC will be coordinating a visually stunning rally that will include artwork, costumes, and theater that will highlight the destructive impacts of the Sheriff’s plan and the spending trade-offs for LA communities.

The Sheriff’s expansion plan comes amidst massive budget shortfalls in education and other social services and just a week after the ACLU filed a lawsuit charging that “Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his top commanders condoned a longstanding, widespread pattern of violence by deputies against inmates in the county jails.”  After interest, the Sheriff expansion plan will cost the county more than $2.66 billion.  $100 million of the proposal would come from Phase 2 of the controversial Assembly Bill 900, which provides over $7.4 billion in prison and jail expansion funds statewide—constituting the largest prison expansion scheme in human history.

Based on the landmark US Supreme Court decision earlier in 2011 ordering the California prison system to drastically reduce overcrowding, counties have been making plans to incorporate people with low-level convictions into their jail systems as part of Gov. Brown realignment plan.  Brown’s plan also provides funds for alternatives to incarceration.  “Instead on using funds for programs that actually work to keep people out of prison and jail—drug treatment, housing services, job training—Sheriff Baca’s plan marks a potentially disastrous trend that replicate the same conditions on the county level that led us to such massive devastation on the state level,” says Mary Sutton of CURB member organization Critical Resistance, an organizer of Tuesday’s rally.

On the heels of Tuesday’s meeting, recent reports have implied that Supervisors may be backing away from the $1.4 billion price tag of the proposal, but a revised proposal has yet to be put forward.  The board will also be discuss spending $5.7 million on a report on overcrowding in LA’s jails.   “We don’t need another million dollar report to tell us what we already know.” Says Emily Harris, statewide coordinator for CURB.  “The only solution for LA is to reduce overcrowding immediately by abandoning all expansion plans and investing in programs and services that work in the short, medium, and long term.”

For more information view:

LA Jail Expansion proposal:  http://curbprisonspending.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LA-Jail-Proposal-2.pdf

Expert Opinion on LA’s Jails:  http://curbprisonspending.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Expert-Opinion-on-LA-County-Jail.pdf

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB): www.curbprisonspending.org

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