Sheila Khuel

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA — The Board of Supervisors approved a motion to prioritize and implement the recommendations of a recent report asking the County to set a goal of seriously reducing the incarceration of women, lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender people.

Van Nuys Jail
LAPD Station in Van Nuys

The report by the Gender Responsive Advisory Committee is the result of two years of meetings, briefings and analysis. The recommendations in the report echo many of the strategies found in the 2020 Alternatives to Incarceration Care First, Jails Last report.

Approximately 1,400 people are currently housed in LA County’s women’s jail, the Century Regional Detention Facility. Guesstimates place the County population of lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender people at approximately 850.

The motion calls on the Jail Closure Implementation Team, in collaboration with the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative and the Office of Diversion and Reentry, to work with the Gender Responsive Advisory Committee to prioritize and implement the report recommendations to decrease the jail population. In addition, the motion calls for additional research to be conducted to better understand the drivers into the justice system among women, lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender people.

National research indicates that women enter the justice system with a history of high levels of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. A woman’s risk of recidivism is better predicted by her unmet needs, such as financial instability, lack of work opportunities, inadequate physical and mental healthcare, underdeveloped parenting skills, and unsafe personal relationships, than by her criminal history.

“Women need help, but, instead, our custody system often retraumatizes people who are already victims of poverty and violence,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion. “Today’s action calls for us to better understand specific custody subpopulations including the cisgender female, lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender populations, what factors drive them into the justice system, and how we might provide the services that could prevent justice involvement. There are better ways to protect public safety than locking up people who simply need help.”

Supervisor Holly Mitchell, co-author of the motion, said, “Black women comprise only nine percent of all the women in LA County, yet they make up 33 percent of jail bookings among women,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, co-author of the motion. “The racial and gender inequities in our jail system are real and must be addressed. This motion ensures the recommendations of the Gender Responsive Advisory Committee are prioritized appropriately to decrease the jail population, close Men’s Central Jail, and advance the County’s Care First vision.”


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