LA County Supervisor Withdraws Controversial Proposal To ‘depopulate’ Jails


A controversial proposal to depopulate and decarcerate Los Angeles County jails collapsed Monday after its main proponent, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, withdrew the plan that blindsided and drew sharp criticism from law enforcement stakeholders.

The sweeping proposal, also backed by newly elected Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, was scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. However, Solis took the item off of the board’s agenda.

“Los Angeles County is subject to numerous federal consent decrees and settlement agreements, including those regarding the treatment provided for incarcerated people with mental health needs and severe overcrowding in county jails, including Men’s Central Jail,” Solis said in a statement. “They are expensive and getting into compliance is becoming more challenging as the population becomes more complex; and the conditions in the jails, as we have long known, are horrid and inhumane

“Nonetheless, since the motion was published, my office has received concerns from a variety of stakeholders — those who feel the motion is not doing enough and those who feel it is doing too much. To that end, I will be referring the motion back to my office so that I can continue to gather input from all stakeholders.

The goal now, she said, is to “balance the needs of public safety while also getting into compliance with our federal obligations. And in that process, I ask that county departments and agencies help us with meeting the need of our most vulnerable.”

County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) The plan aimed to declare a “humanitarian crisis” in the jails and advocate for or instruct several county agencies to evaluate, create and expand programs that would keep more people out of a jail, even after they are convicted of misdemeanors and some felonies.

“To depopulate and decarcerate is a monumental task, and the Board is committed to redress historical wrongs, deeply rooted in systemic racism and prejudice, and reverse status quo responses to poverty, mental health and medical needs, and substance use dependencies,” the supervisors wrote in their motion.

The Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association says it was blindsided by the proposal, only learning about it on Friday.

Early Monday, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn said they would not support the proposal, while Horvath and Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell could not be reached for comment.

“This board has taken steps to divert people from our jails safely, but Men’s Central Jail continues to be overcrowded and dangerous for both our inmates and our deputies,” Hahn said in a statement Monday. “That being said, I have concerns with this proposal and its potential impact on public safety, and I cannot support it. Any plan to reduce the population of our jails needs to be decided in partnership with law enforcement, our deputy district attorneys, and our courts.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Plan to depopulate jails needs more work, involvement from stakeholders, Supervisors say.

Scott Schwebke | Investigative Reporter Scott Schwebke is an investigative reporter for the Orange County Register and the Southern California News Group. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he was previously a breaking news and multimedia reporter for the Ogden, Utah, Standard-Examiner. Scott has also worked at newspapers in Utah, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia covering everything from methamphetamine trafficking cops to hurricanes. He has also accompanied police on undercover drug buys and also provided an award winning, eyewitness account of the execution of a North Carolina death row inmate. Scott was part of the OC Register’s investigative team that in 2017 produced the year-long, award winning Rehab Riviera series, examining problems in Southern California’s drug rehabilitation industry. He also teamed up with reporter Joe Nelson in 2019 on Bad Apples, an award winning investigation that exposed years of sex abuse cover up in the Redlands Unified School District. Having spent two years living in England including Liverpool, he is an avid Beatles fan and memorabilia collector.


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