Supervisor Sheila Kuehl released the following statement in response to the cancellation of the County design-build agreement to replace the Men’s Central Jail:
“I want to thank my colleagues for their courage and leadership today in taking this important step to ensure that LA County realizes our goal of ‘treatment first, jail last’ in addressing the needs of men and women who are far better served by treatment than incarceration. I am proud that this Board understands that no one gets well in a cell.
“In 2015, The Board of Supervisors created the Office of Diversion and Re-entry (ODR) and through its pilot programs and research, ODR has demonstrated that we can safely divert more than half of our mentally ill inmates out of the jail system. Since that time, we have shifted the conversation from “How can we provide better care in our overcrowded jails?” to “How can we keep people out of our jails and give them the care that they need in their communities?”
“This Board is committed to building a better and more just system that creates opportunities for true rehabilitation and reintegration of those who suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders back into our community. Instead of investing heavily in new jail beds, we can put fewer people in jail, construct a decentralized network of treatment facilities that offer people the treatment they need, create new programs that meet women’s unique needs, and keep men and women in their communities so they can have the support of their loved ones.
“Thanks also to the advocates for their tireless work.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this Board has indicated that it has the guts, resolve and determination to see this historic effort to completion.”