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Los Angeles County Cancels Contract to Replace Men’s Central Jail

September 2, 2019

There are no immediate plans to replace the jail.

Los Angeles County Cancels Contract to Replace Men’s Central Jail

In February 2019, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a 1.7 billion dollar contract with McCarthy Builders to design and build a facility that would replace the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. This facility was meant to be a mental health treatment facility, but it was unclear how it would be different from a jail. After outcry from criminal justice reform advocates and the public, the board decided to cancel the contract — leaving the future of the jail up in the air for now.

The Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles is known for being dangerously overcrowded and out-of-date. Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States, with a population of over 10 million people (and growing). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that the nation’s largest jail population resides in Los Angeles County — a daily average of 22,000 inmates.

According to a criminal defense lawyer Los Angeles County, CA, the contract with McCarthy Builders would have resulted in a facility that was three times the size of California’s largest mental health hospital. It would have contained almost 4,000 beds for pretrial detainees with mental health issues. According to board member Hilda Solis, “A jail is a jail is a jail. It is not enough to change the name of the facility.”

The decision to cancel the contract was driven not just by a call for criminal justice reform, but by a call for prison abolition. Rather than exploring options for a new jail, the board will look at alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment programs for mental health and substance abuse. In the past year, approximately 247,000 county residents signed a measure to support a 2020 ballot measure that would reform the county’s jails.

The safety of jails in Los Angeles County is important for anyone facing a criminal charge. It is also critical for the approximately 5,000 people in the current system with mental health needs. While it may take several years for the board to enact a plan for an alternative to the current jail system in the county, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer Los Angeles County, CA can help individuals charged with a crime achieve the best possible outcome. This may include a reduction or dismissal of the charges, a favorable plea deal, or even an alternative sentence, depending on the facts of the case.

At the Chambers Law Firm, we are well-versed in the various ways that cases can be resolved within the adversarial criminal justice system. As a former prosecutor, attorney Dan E. Chambers has a unique perspective — and puts his knowledge to work for his clients. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com.

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