L.A. County Unable to Avert Federal Oversight of Jails

Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.

In a letter sent to the county last week, the Department of Justice said that despite some progress, it remained “concerned about the sustainability and future durability of the reforms.”

The county jails have been monitored by federal officials for the past 12 years under an agreement requiring improvements in treatment of the mentally ill. On June 4, 2014 the Department of Justice announced it would seek court oversight of the jails, citing a dramatic increase in inmate suicides.

In a June 4, 2014 letter describing “dimly lit, vermin-infested, noisy, unsanitary, cramped and crowded” living conditions that exacerbated inmates’ mental distress. After suicides more than doubled, from four in 2012 to 10 the following year, jail officials did little to address the situation, the letter said, calling many of the suicides preventable.

NAMI Los Angeles Coordinating Council has been advocating for better conditions in the jails and with the leadership of Mark Gale and Brittany Weissman NAMI L.A. County Executive Director and the LACC Advocacy Committee things seem to be moving forward.