A controversial $2.2-billion plan to replace the overcrowded, crumbling Men’s Central Jail downtown cleared its last procedural hurdle Tuesday, when the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project’s budget and certified its environmental impact report.
The Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility, as the new lockup will be known, will be designed specifically to provide treatment and rehabilitation of medically and mentally ill inmates, who make up an estimated 70% of the county’s overall jail population, according to L.A. County Sheriff’s Department officials.
“The county has an opportunity — in fact, a responsibility — to replace the unacceptable Men’s Central Jail with a facility that directly addresses the health and life-skill needs of our inmate-patients, placing them more quickly on a pathway to recovery and reentry,” Supervisor and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl said in a statement.
Men’s Central Jail, first built in 1963 and expanded in the 1970s, currently houses about 4,000 inmates in narrow, cramped cells that line long, bleak hallways. TVs blare loudly and passersby are instructed to walk under overhangs to avoid the possibility of having urine, feces or other objects thrown at them from above. Plumbing and electrical infrastructure need constant repairs.
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