County Supervisors Vote to Reconsider Size of New Men’s Central Jail

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Cells within the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

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Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to pull back a plan to rebuild the aging Men’s Central Jail and reassess the number of beds needed in a new facility.

Sheriff’s officials, who manage Men’s Central as part of the nation’s largest jail system, worried that a delay could hurt their ability to obtain state money for the new central jail and other necessary jail reconstruction projects.

A divided board voted last year to move forward with a $2-billion Men’s Central replacement plan that included building a new two-tower, 4,860-bed jail geared toward high-security inmates and those with mental health and other medical and substance abuse issues. The county has paid about $6 million to contractor AECOM for work on the jail plan to date.

County officials agree that the conditions in the current central jail are abysmal and that the facility must be replaced. But they disagree about the scale. Advocates who want to reduce incarceration have pushed the board to scrap or downsize the jail plan, saying the population will be substantially reduced by diversion efforts and Proposition 47, which reduced the sentences for many drug and property crimes.

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