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L.A. County Leaders Vote To Overhaul Jail System

Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail in downtown L.A. (Andrew Cullen for LAist)
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On Tuesday, L.A. County leaders voted 5-0 to approve an ambitious plan to overhaul the criminal justice system. The reform plan is an effort to decrease vulnerable populations in the jails, especially people who are homeless, have substance abuse disorders or mental illness.

The plan is laid out in a report from the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group. More than two dozen community leaders and county government workers from different departments, including the sheriff’s department, health department and district attorney’s office, worked on it for almost a year.

Some of the 114 recommendations in the report include training 911 operators to do mental health screenings, expanding community-based treatment centers and building more supportive housing.


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The Board also voted to establish a special team inside the county CEO's office to implement the recommendations. The CEO needs to report back to the board with an initial analysis of the recommendations within 90 days, including how to pay for them.

Dr. Bob Ross, president of The California Endowment and chair of the county's Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group, wants to ensure the plan offers a long-term return on investment.

“Every time you treat someone, from a dollar-to-dollar standpoint,” he said, “it really is a smarter, more cost-effective way to treat people in the community.”