Los Angeles County Jail in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles County Jail in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to reconsider its decision to move forward with jail construction plans, reacting to claims that last week’s vote amounted to a violation of the Brown Act open meetings law.

The board will take up the issue again on Sept. 1, leaving open the possibility that the number of planned jail beds will be re-sized.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich recommended reconsideration of the 3-1 vote approving a 3,885-bed jail/treatment facility in downtown Los Angeles to replace the Men’s Central Jail and a 1,604-bed women’s jail in Lancaster.

That vote was taken on a last-minute amendment to another agenda item aimed at reducing the jail population by diverting mentally ill offenders into treatment programs.

Civil rights activists called the move a violation of the Brown Act, since the jail construction wasn’t part of the publicly distributed agenda. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California threatened a lawsuit.

Tuesday, community advocates treated the reconsideration as an olive branch, seeing a chance to reopen the dialogue about funding jails versus community-based programs.

Much of last week’s discussion of the construction plan was a debate over the exact size of the Men’s Central Jail, with all of the supervisors acknowledging that a new facility must be built to replace the decaying building built more than 50 years ago.

The board had halted work on the downtown Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility, geared toward treatment of mentally ill offenders, and a women’s jail on the site of the former Mira Loma Detention Center on June 9 to allow for independent analysis of the need for future jail beds.

— City News Service 

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