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LA County Reaches Settlement with ACLU to Improve Conditions in Jails

LA County Reaches Settlement with ACLU to Improve Conditions in Jails 799 262 COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

June 16, 2023
Contact: Countywide Communications at pio@ceo.lacounty.gov

LA County Reaches Settlement with ACLU to Improve Conditions in Jails

Los Angeles County has reached an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to significantly improve conditions in the jail system.

The agreement filed today with Judge Dean D. Pregerson in Rutherford v. Luna recognizes the improved conditions in the Inmate Reception Center (IRC) resulting from the remedial actions taken by the County in recent months to improve waiting times, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. This work addresses the root causes of the issues raised in the ACLU’s Motion for Contempt and resolves that motion with no finding of contempt or contempt sanctions for the County.

Under the agreement, which requires the judge’s approval to become final, the County agrees to a series of limits on how long those in custody may be held in various areas to ensure more humane treatment.

This settlement recognizes corrective actions taken by the County and allows the County to build on the momentum and focus achieved over the past several months to continue to:

—Decrease the jail population while balancing public safety concerns;

—Expand the capacity for community-based care for those who can be safely released or diverted from custody;

—Increase staffing to provide more robust care for those who must remain in custody;

—Align how we are using our jail facilities to better address the mental health needs of the jail population; and

—Adjust how we operate to support our compliance goals and better track our progress.

The County has:

  • Added a new 24/7 compliance sergeant in the IRC;
  • Expanded the number of cleaning crews and sanitation checks in the IRC;
  • Increased the number of Correctional Health Services staff designated to provide mental health services in the IRC, including embedding additional psychiatric staff stationed in the IRC;
  • Hired 182 Correctional Health Services (CHS) employees for positions throughout the jails as of June 15, 2023;
  • Assigned 215 recently-graduated deputies to fill existing vacancies in custody operations;
  • Announced assignment bonuses of up to 20% for more than 1,900 Correctional Health Services employees working in the jails to help retain and recruit staff in key clinical, case management, technical and administrative positions; and
  • Implemented a new Shared Intake Management (or “SIM”) System that uses wristband scanner technology and integration of Sheriff’s Department systems to track, monitor and implement the timely movement of people through the intake process to reduce wait times; and
  • Retrained staff on legal requirements for IRC conditions and wait times.

The County has also actively engaged state agencies to expedite the transfer of individuals ordered to their facilities.  This has reduced the total jail population, which has dropped from 14,209 to 13,176 (about 7%) from February 27 to June 9, 2023.  We have also committed to building out the network of community beds for those who can safely be treated in the community mental health placements.

  • More than 2,900 individuals sentenced to state prison have been transferred with the population pending state prison transfer reduced from 1,543 to 607.
  • 500 individuals declared felony incompetent to stand trial have been transferred to state hospitals for treatment, with the population pending state hospital transfer reduced from 422 to 356.
  • The County has authorized the Department of Health Services (DHS) to enter into a contract with the California Department of State Hospitals for approximately $629 million in State funding to increase the number of ODR beds for those accused of felonies found incompetent to stand trial (FIST) from 794 to 1,344 over five years.
  • On April 4, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) authorized 500 new community mental health beds through ODR and the Department of Mental Health for individuals in custody and suffering from severe mental health disorders (P3/P4s) who cannot safely be released. The County is finalizing funding for the first year of this ramp up.
  • The preliminary injunction order in the Urquidi bail reform case temporarily reinstates the Emergency Bail Schedule and may further reduce the pretrial population in the jails.

The County has established a DOJ Compliance Office to drive compliance with the remaining provisions of U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement to improve conditions in the County’s jail system for those with mental health conditions. The County’s Chief DOJ Compliance Officer Margaret L. Carter has been empowered to set priorities, expedite approvals and sustain focus across multiple departments to accomplish this goal.

This multi-faceted work is being carried out by a wide range of LA County departments and divisions—including Correctional Health Services, the Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department, Mental Health, the Office of Diversion and Reentry, and the Sheriff’s Department—and relies on many others, including our justice partners in the courts and various State agencies, to achieve the broad systemic changes that will be required.

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