by Peggy Clifford | Santa Monica Dispatch | March 5, 2012

Los Angeles–Young people, advocates, formerly incarcerated people and their families will gather outside the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s (BOS) meeting on Tuesday March 7 to challenge LA County’s proposed expansion of its jails and continue to voice their rejection of the County’s application for $100 million in state AB900 funds for the creation of a women’s jail in Castaic. On March 8, Corrections Standards Authority will announce which counties are qualified to receive AB900 Phase II Jail Construction dollars. Twenty counties in California have applied for a total of $1,102,855,803 including a $100 million application from LA County.

Community members will also voice opposition to using state prisons to “house” LA County detainees as well as the board’s proposal to give $5.7 million of county funds to controversial firm AECOM for an assessment of whether the County needs additional jail cells. AECOM is a prominent construction firm that has built several jails and prisons. Many have expressed doubts that AECOM would make a recommendation against construction.

“If the County insists on accepting the funds, then we want the supervisors to push a redirection of those funds toward construction or repair of community-based mental health centers, drug treatment centers, housing and ‘welcome home’ centers for people returning home from state prison,” says Christine Wang from Critical Resistance.

Organizations working against jail expansion in LA County have emphasized that realignment was not designed to re-incarcerate people released from prison in County jails. “LA communities have turned out so strongly against the jails because they have had such a devastating impact on our loved ones, our neighborhoods, the entire county,” says Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition. “LA already locks up more people than anywhere else in the world. This decades-long addiction to detention and incarceration has bankrupted our ability to provide adequate community services, including the much more cost effective alternatives to arrest, court, detention and incarceration that also better provide for public safety and reduce recidivism.”

The threat of jail expansion comes amidst numerous lawsuits surrounding allegations of systematic abuse and torture in LA’s jails as well as numerous reports and expert opinions recommending against the rampant misuse of incarceration in the county.

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