A recent Rand Corporation study found that more than half of all the inmates held in the L.A. County Jail suffering from mental illness do not need to be incarcerated. The study looked at over 500 inmates suffering from mental illness and found they would be appropriate candidates for community-based treatment programs. Using the 500 as a representative sample of the larger incarcerated mentally ill population, which exceeds 5500, the study determined that about 59% of men and 74% of women could be better served if they were diverted from the jail system into community-based treatment programs.
In 2015, Los Angeles County created the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) to understand the types of factors that would impact reentry into communities. ODR launched the Housing Court program, which provides mentally ill incarcerated individuals with permanent supportive housing after they found that the demand for housing among the mentally ill was a contributing factor leading to their high rate of incarceration.
The Office of Diversion and Reentry found that providing housing through programs like the Housing Court is about seven times less expensive than incarcerating the mentally ill and provide for a more permanent solution.
ODR found that providing housing through programs like the Housing Court is about seven times less expensive than incarcerating the mentally ill and provide for a more permanent solution.
A movement, powered by Black Lives Matter, is taking on the Los Angeles County Jail – arguably the world’s largest jail system. Oganized by Patrisse Cullors and others, a measure called “Yes on R” that Reforms L.A. Jails will be on the California primary March 3, 2020 ballot as a response to the systemic structural oppression that has shaped the lives of black and brown residents, the homeless, and people who struggle with mental illness or disability in Los Angeles County. Says Cullors, “Instead of locking people up, we should show care and compassion by ensuring them access to mental health care. That’s why it is so pertinent to vote Yes on R and we call on the community to do the same”.
Patrisse Cullors, who has long been an outspoken opponent of the incarceration of mentally ill people, spearheaded the effort to gather signature for the initiative. Measure R, if passed, will provide funding to invest in rehabilitation and mental health serves. Its proponents maintain that it will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year by ensuring people no longer sit in jail just because they can’t afford bail.
For more information on the ballot and how you can vote, visit voteyesonr.org.
Los Angeles Voting Information:
February 3, 2020 – Vote by Mail
February 22, 2020 – Voting Centers Open
March 3, 2020 – Election Day to get the measure on the ballot.
Publisher, LA Progressive