Sign on to the below letter, to be submitted on August 13, 2019, opposing ongoing jail construction and supporting community based alternatives.
The construction of a strong, healthy, and robust LA County must come through community-based care and investments in local neighborhoods. That construction must be determined by people directly impacted and developed with support by designers, planners, clinicians, and public health advocates.
Here’s what they’re demanding:
Stop the design and construction plans for the Mental Health Treatment Center.
Support community-based alternatives to incarceration that do not involve law enforcement.
“A jail is a jail is a jail” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. Above shows an image from original design proposal for a mental health jail. On April 4, 2019 LA County signed a $1.7 billion contract with McCarthy Builders for the Mental Health Treatment Center without revising their original jail proposal.
PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND DESIGNERS/PLANNERS
OPPOSE MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT CENTER
Dear Board of Supervisors,
Next week, the Alternatives to Incarceration workgroup, initiated by the Board, will come before you with a robust set of proposals to reduce imprisonment and bolster community-based treatment and vital services. It is important to stay open to the widely agreed-upon vision of decentralized community based service and care settings throughout the county. We urge you to prioritize proposed Alternatives to Incarceration and drop all plans to construct the single facility version of the Mental Health Treatment Center and any other so-called mental health treatment that is tied up with criminalization and punishment. LA County cannot in good faith simultaneously invest in infrastructure for alternatives to imprisonment while continuing to advance the design-build process for a mega-jail disguised as a mental hospital. We believe that the McCarthy construction contract must be halted now in order to allow for these robust alternatives to be fully considered and implemented. As described by the Feb 12th Motion by Sup. Hahn and Ridley-Thomas, the Mental Health Treatment Center was to “be informed by research on mental health challenges experienced by justice-involved individuals, support a treatment-first approach, implement appropriate security measures, and work towards diversion to community based mental treatment”. As public health workers, clinicians, and architects/planners, we do not believe the above-stated intention can be implemented through the project being considered on the site of Men’s Central Jail. Thus, the Mental Health Treatment Center is doomed to function as a jail by another name.
We applaud your previous courageous decision to move forward a different model for LA County and we ask you make that decision a reality. We have come too far to allow expediency or political convenience to push LA residents experiencing mental illness back into jail. Halt the design of the Mental Health Treatment Center, cancel the contract with McCarthy, and allow for a decentralized community based model to truly take root.
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility
Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Public Health Justice Collective