We have now reached the second anniversary of the Public Safety Realignment Act (AB 109) in California. These last two years offered an opportunity for you to enact smart justice policies that are rooted in evidence-based practices and provide cost-effective ways of improving public safety. Again and again, you have bungled this opportunity. For mismanaging realignment in LA County, we are putting you “on probation.” We list for you the following five rehabilitation benchmarks that we expect you to meet over the next year.
- Rehabilitation Funding. Funding in the first two years was concentrated on enforcement and incarceration. Future funding must pay for rehabilitation that will decrease recidivism and improve lives. For example, the Department of Public Health has not received the millions of dollars it needs for substance abuse treatment programs. At least one third of the Public Safety Realignment money received from the state must be used for community-based reentry support services: housing and transportation, drug treatment, mental health, etc.
- Full Budget Transparency. Much about the county’s realignment spending remains shrouded in mystery, including at least $4 million that was allocated for community-based support services but never dispersed. The public must be given a full accounting of how every dollar of these hundreds of millions has been and will be spent.
- Alternatives to Incarceration (Including Pre-Trial Release). Thousands of jail beds can be freed by diverting nonviolent offenders into cost-effective mental health and drug treatment. In addition, as Sheriff Baca has said, thousands of people who have not yet had their court date should be released. They are only in jail because they are poor and can’t pay bail money.
- Support for Third Strikers. Thousands of “third strikers” are returning to LA County due to passage of Prop 36; they need funded services to help them reintegrate into the community.
- Less Suppression. Law enforcement is overusing flash incarceration and harsh compliance checks. LA County needs a smarter approach, and the Board can show leadership here.
If you adopt these policies, LA County will have a much smarter justice system that serves taxpayers, ensures public safety, and gives struggling human beings a chance to succeed and be restored to their communities. Despite your mismanagement thus far, we believe you deserve a second chance—but now it’s time to for you to commit to your own rehabilitation. We will be here every step of the way to support you in this effort and, at the same time, provide the accountability
you need to make LA County safer and more just.
Justice Not Jails
Drug Policy Alliance
Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership
CLUE Los Angeles
Coalition to End Sheriff Violence
in LA County Jails
Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace
Violence Prevention Coalition
Californians United for Responsible Budgets
Youth Justice Coalition
SCLC of Greater Los Angeles
FACTS Educational Foundation
A New Way of Life
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
All of Us or None
South LA Reintegration Council