Beyond Realignment: Fixing LA’s Jails
Finding Solutions to Jail Overcrowding and Inmate Abuse That Don’t Involve New Jail Construction
What: ACLU-SC Pasadena-Foothills Chapter Public Forum
When: Tuesday, July 9, 7 p.m.
Where: Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena
Los Angeles -- 14 June 2013: Jail reform advocates and community activists cheered the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found overcrowding at California prisons tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment, citing inmate suicide rates 80 precent higher than anywhere else in the nation.
Expecting this decision to lead to a reduction in the state’s massive prison population with sentencing reform and the early release of nonviolent inmates, they were chagrined to find that the state legislature’s response, AB 109, simply pushes thousands of offenders—felons whose most recent offenses were non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual—to county jails. Last year, 11,136 such state prisoners were released back to Los Angeles County for housing.
In response, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has proposed a $1.4-billion jail construction project that would ease overcrowding at Men’s Central Jail, create what has been dubbed a thousand-bed “women’s village” in Castaic, and prevent the early release of prisoners -- even though the LA County jail system has thousands of unused beds.
Community groups who work to reintegrate the formerly incarcerated back into society have pushed back.
“I’m concerned that the Sheriff’s Department pays lip service to community-based alternatives but is still overwhelmingly focused on protecting its turf, keeping its budget, and replicating the failed state prison model right here in LA County,” says Rev. Peter Laarman, whose Justice Not Jails project serves as a clearinghouse for county-wide reintegration and sentencing reform efforts.
At the July 9th ACLU-SC Pasadena/Foothills forum, Laarman will be joined by Patrisse Cullors, whose Coalition to End Sheriff’s Violence in LA Jails agitates to create civilian oversight of the Sheriff’s Department, and Esther Lim, whose ACLU Jails Project monitors conditions of confinement and medical care across the county’s jail system to insure that a basic standard of care is delivered to prisoners.
The event is free and open to the public. For more info, contact Sharon Kyle, Communications Chair, ACLU-SC Pasadena/Foothills Chapter, aclupasadena@yahoo or 213.434.4643.