republican debate

Proposal to release some inmates from LA County jails paused

  • Overcrowding has been a persistent problem in L.A. County jails
  • Two county officials want to solve this through decarceration
  • Their proposal, however, has drawn criticism

(NewsNation) — Aiming to solve the overcrowding problem at Los Angeles County jails, two supervisors have written a proposal calling for the release of some inmates — but it has since been put on hold following people’s strong reactions to it.

A motion, written by Los Angeles County supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath, calls for the release of individuals sentenced to county jails for misdemeanors or felonies “who can be safely released back into the community” based on rules that were previously developed by the sheriff’s department. Local media reported that an earlier version of the proposal said it would apply to those who have less than a $50,000 bond.

Currently, county jails house 1,464 people who have been sentenced to state prison, Solis and Horvath wrote. One of these, L.A. Men’s Central Jail, is so old, overcrowded and plagued by problems that the county board voted to close it down in 2021. Last week, protestors demanded a faster timeline — they want the jail to be shut down by 2025.

Horvath and Hahn also called for mental health services and overcrowding in the Los Angeles County jails to be declared a “humanitarian crisis” by the Board of Supervisors, which they said would require officials to “move with all deliberate speed on meaningful solutions.”

“The burden of acting as a holding space for another jurisdiction, in this case, the State, poses great liability and risk to the County,” the supervisors said.

While this proposal had been on the agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, this is no longer the case. Solis told NewsNation she pulled the proposal after hearing concerns from a variety of stakeholders on both sides.

The L.A. Association of Deputy District Attorneys said the proposal is dangerous and reckless.

“What does your common sense tell you is going to happen when you open the gates to the prisons and the jails?” Marc Debbaudt, president emeritus of the association, said in an interview with NewsNation.

However, rehabilitation over incarceration is in line with the goals of Los Angeles County’s progressive District Attorney, George Gascón, who survived a recall election last year.

“If locking people up was about making us safer, L.A. County would be the safest county in the world,” Gascón said in August 2022.

But in San Francisco, progressive DA Chesa Boudin did end up getting recalled in a June 2022 vote.

Months later, people are still concerned about crime.

In a letter last week to welcome the newly-confirmed U.S. Attorney for Northern California, San Francisco Mayor London Breed asked for more federal assistance, writing in part, “Our local law enforcement is doing its best to enforce against drug dealing, however, the scale of the problem is beyond our local capacity.”


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