The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to replace the Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. with a mental health treatment center.
The new center will be operated by the Department of Health and Human Services and will be staffed by the Department of Mental Health.
The jail is one of the oldest jail facilities in California, according to a news release sent out by Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office.
“The mental health treatment center would be a treatment-centric facility focused on healing, not punishment,” the news release stated.
The county is also considering building smaller mental health centers instead of one large hospital, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl opposed the change, according to the newspaper.
“Men’s Central Jail is a decrepit, outdated facility inconsistent with human values and basic decency,” Hahn said in the news release. “It puts both our inmates and our sheriff’s deputies at risk. It must be torn down.”
“We don’t need a new jail. What we need are mental health care facilities run by mental health professionals,” Hahn added.
The board was set to vote on whether to replace the facility with a mental health jail that was to be named the Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility. Instead Hahn and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote an amendment to move forward with the contract, but change the project to a mental health treatment center.
The next step is for the mental health, public health, and health services departments to report back to the board about the right size, scale and scope of the project.
The vote was applauded by advocacy groups who had opposed the Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility.
“This is a monumental victory for Los Angeles County and a vital paradigm shift for how the criminal justice system treats mental illness,” supporters said in a news release about the announcement.
Supporters include Community Coalition, Justice Los Angeles, Dignity Power Now, Youth Justice Coalition and Californians United for Responsible Budget.
The supervisors also voted to stop a proposal to convert the Mira Loma detention facility in Lancaster into a new women’s jail, the Times reported.