Sweeping plan to ‘depopulate’ LA County jails embraced by supervisors

‘This program benefits no one, except career criminals,’ says a leader of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys

A sweeping proposal calling for depopulation and decarceration of the Los Angeles County jails will be considered Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, drawing the ire of an organization representing police chiefs for 45 law enforcement agencies.

The plan advanced by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath would declare a “humanitarian crisis” in the jails and advocate for or instruct several county agencies to evaluate, create and expand programs that would keep more people out of a jail, even after they are convicted of misdemeanors and some felonies.

Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which represents about 900 LA County prosecutors, calls the proposal from Solis and Horvath “dangerous and reckless,” and claims it guts portions of the legal system without input from valuable stakeholders.

“The authors sought no advice from those who know and understand public safety issues,” he said in an email Sunday. “They seek to lower the jail population without addressing the root causes of crime or protecting the public.”

Siddall noted the proposal directs law enforcement to cite and release suspects for offenses such as illegally carrying a gun, domestic violence, possession of child pornography and some violent crimes, including residential burglary, robbery, and assault with a firearm.

“This catch-and-release program comes without any plan or infrastructure to protect the community from violent criminals apprehended by law enforcement,” he said. “Further, it creates no lockdown facilities for the mentally ill. This program benefits no one, except career criminals. We need to make sure the most dangerous offenders don’t get out, that first-time offenders don’t come back, and that those with serious mental illnesses get appropriate care and help. This does none of that.”

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