News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
County Moves to Reform Bail System
A week ago, the LA County District Attorney, Public Defender, and Alternate Public Defender jointly released a report outlining a number of clear guidelines for reforming the antiquated and inequitable bail system and bringing the County into compliance with the California Supreme Court’s Humphrey decision, which found that current cash bail systems are unconstitutional. I am happy to report that the Board, this week, unanimously approved my motion, co-authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, to expedite the implementation of those recommendations.
The inability to secure cash bail has consistently been found to disproportionately impact Black and Latinx communities and negatively impact virtually every accused person’s employment, housing, and mental health. Individuals who cannot afford to post bail can lose their jobs, their housing, and even their important and stabilizing relationships, losses that only serve to perpetuate a cycle of incarceration. Notably, other jurisdictions have already carried out similar pretrial reforms and observed no decrease in public safety or increase in the rate at which individuals fail to appear in court.
Youth Justice Reimagined
Bail reform wasn’t the only justice-related item on this week’s agenda. The Board also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Holly Mitchell that facilitates the next steps and highlights our priorities moving forward with the innovative and exciting Youth Justice Reimagined Model.
The motion requests specific information in an upcoming quarterly report that will provide the building blocks for this forward-thinking approach to youth justice, broadly centered on redirecting funding, shifting staff emphasis on law enforcement approaches, and developing a legislative plan to move to a different kind of juvenile justice system
Social Security for Foster Youth
I was troubled to learn that some other counties’ child welfare jurisdictions file for Social Security SSI benefits on behalf of the foster youth in their care, but then use the funds towards paying for their care rather than creating bank accounts on the young person’s behalf. I don’t believe this approach aligns with our pledge to support and protect our foster youth.
At our Tuesday meeting, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, which I co-authored, that proactively evaluates our practices relating to Social Security for foster youth and directing DCFS and Probation to assess each foster youths’ eligibility for Social Security benefits, identify the number of applications filed and approved, and see to it that DCFS and Probation are opening no-cost interest-bearing bank accounts for eligible foster youth.
We need to do everything we can to build a solid foundation for every young person leaving our County’s foster care system.
Measure H Budget
This week, we also approved the Measure H Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which will direct significant funding towards rapid rehousing ($86m), homelessness prevention ($22m), interim housing ($65m), services for supportive housing ($113m), and outreach ($39m), as well as all the other Measure H strategies developed with community input
We are building on the progress we’ve made so far with a renewed focus on prevention. The most significant hurdle still remaining is that more people are falling into homelessness than are being placed into housing, though we continue to house thousands. An average of 207 people exit homelessness every day in Los Angeles County, but m, on that same day, 227 more people fall into homelessness , primarily due to economic factors, such as wages not keeping pace with rents. However, by continuing to fund proven strategies and restoring many programs that were cut due to COVID curtailments, we have a continuing opportunity to turn the tide in a more favorable direction.
Ordinance for the Prevention of Human Trafficking
We approved a long-in-the-making ordinance this week designed to educate employees of certain businesses about ways to recognize signs of human trafficking activities going on among their customers as well as publicize resources and advocacy services for victims.
The ordinance requires businesses to provide training and post information on hotlines and resources related to human trafficking. The introduction of these requirements will go hand-in-hand with a robust outreach effort, which will require partnering with enforcement agencies, educating businesses and the community, and collaborating with victim service providers on an ongoing basis.