Vera Institute of Justice on the Anniversary of the “Care First, Jails Last” Alternatives to Incarceration Report

Two years ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board) committed to implement foundational recommendations from the county’s Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Workgroup report. At that time, the Board recognized that “we cannot incarcerate our way to safer communities” and committed to expanding community-based services that help prevent incarceration and stabilize people being released from jail.

Two years after that promise, Michelle Parris, program director, Vera California, issued the following statement:

“Although Los Angeles County has made some strides in the past two years to reduce incarceration, more must be done. We commend the Board’s “care first” approach that, if implemented, would make Los Angeles County a model for safe and sustainable decarceration and help correct decades of systemic racism that disproportionately affects Black and Latinx people. However, the county must turn its words into action by decisively shifting budget priorities and expanding supportive pathways out of the jail system.

The Board recently voted to create a pretrial services entity that would provide a bridge to community-based care. This has the potential to significantly, safely, and equitably reduce pretrial detention in LA County, but it must be fully funded within the next six months to have a meaningful impact. Furthermore, steps must be taken to address the nearly 6,000 people with mental health needs who are currently being held in Los Angeles County jails. Jails are often the largest mental health institutions in the United States. We must change this by immediately allocating funding for 4,000 new treatment beds in the community and scaling up programs that support releases from jail into treatment programs.

We call on Los Angeles County to fully implement these vital recommendations on alternatives to incarceration with clear benchmarks and transparency in its progress toward these goals. Doing so will reshape judicial decision-making, drive down racial disparities, and help reduce the jail population long term."

About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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