LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Holly J. Mitchell to create a plan for expanding the County’s Care First, Jails Last vision by addressing the crisis of a rising jail population with serious mental illness and substance abuse dependency and the disproportionately high rate of Black and Latinx residents within the County’s justice system. The motion directs the Chief Executive Office to report back with a cost analysis for expanding the Office of Diversion and Re-entry’s (ODR) Housing Program to include 500 additional beds so that a total of 2,700 beds will be available for individuals in our jails that desperately need treatment for serious mental illness.
“Currently, there are nearly 13,000 people in the County’s jail system and a little under half of our jail population is suffering from mental health challenges. This urgent crisis requires an intentional response that includes a timeline and commitment to expand the ODR Re-entry Housing Model that has been proven to effectively serve incarcerated people” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell, representing the Second District. “The Board’s support on the condition of accepting amendments at Tuesday’s Board meeting brings us back to the status quo. Removing a timeline to fix the problem puts thousands of lives in limbo and weakens the mandate for strong, decisive action.”
Since its establishment, ODR has removed more than 7,000 individuals from the County jails and connected them to community-based treatment and supportive housing. The programming has proven successful with A RAND Corporation study of ODR’s Supportive Housing Program finding that 91% of its clients had stable housing after six months. The ODR Re-entry Housing has not been able to accept new patients since April of 2021 due to a lack of ongoing funding that leaves too many stranded in jails with inadequate mental health treatment and essential support.
“We shouldn’t be treating one of our most effective solutions to a human rights crisis in our jails with cynicism or delayed resolve. The critical motion presented by Supervisor Mitchell today aimed to address those barriers” said Mark Anthony, Executive Director, Dignity and Power Now. “While the Board took an important step today to sufficiently resource ODR, the approved amendments run the risk of falsely pitting historic reforms against each other.”
To read the full motion, click here.