CALIFORNIA — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday, June 23 to consider a motion that will shift the legislature’s AB 109 funding from the county’s jail system to alternative treatment services.
“We cannot police our way out of all of our problems—whether that be mental illness, or poverty, or addiction. I want to look critically at the State funding that we currently give to our jail system and see if there is a smarter way to spend this money,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis.
AB 109’s funding typically flows through the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to their jail and probation services. But rather, the motion suggests that the funding should be circulated to services such as diversion programs, substance abuse programs, mental health treatment, housing and restorative justice programs.
The public safety legislation was initially passed in April 2011 under former Governor Jerry Brown and it originally sought to shift the responsibility of certain non-serious offenders from the state to the county jails and probation services. This was in part to limit the inmate population within state prisons.
After releasing around 5,000 inmates due to concerns of the coronavirus pandemic within prisons, LA county jails currently have an inmate population of around 12,000 today.
The motion to reallocate funding comes in light of police reform in light of the social justice protests occurring nationwide. This current fiscal year, the county is expecting to receive $358.3 million in AB 109 funding, $66.6 million less than the previous year. When the ordinance was first passed, 63% was allocated to the Sheriff’s Department and 22% to the Probation Department.
In addition to other budget moves with the Sheriff’s Department, on Thursday, June 25, Los Angeles CEO Sachi Hamai released a revised budget for approval for the upcoming fiscal year. In it, he notes a reduction of $145.4 million and a potential cut of 1,392 positions throughout the department. Also, the reductions could result in 346 potential layoffs.
Specific department bureaus such as Major Crimes, Fraud and Cybercrimes, Special Victims Bureau and Operations Safe Streets are expected to be affected by the budget constraints according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“These are four major detective units in the department. They serve the entire county of Los Angeles and are vital for the ability of the county to maintain its residents safely,” said Villanueva in concern to the revised budget.