L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca conducts an inspection of Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles in this photo from December 2011.
As the state's prison realignment plan fills Los Angeles County jails with more inmates, the County Board of Supervisors Tuesday considers a plan that would allow Sheriff Lee Baca to send some prisoners to a lockup in the city of Taft, near Bakersfield.
L.A. jails are handling thousands more lower-level inmates under realignment. Probation Chief Jerry Powers said the county needs more space.
"I’m hopeful that we can divert people out of jail," Powers said. "But I think it’s prudent to have the resources available in case you do need the space."
The board will consider a $75 million contract with the city of Taft that would allow the sheriff to house more than 500 L.A. County inmates at the Taft Community Correctional Facility.
Much of that facility is now closed, said Lynne Lyman of the L.A. Regional Reentry Partnership, an advocate on behalf of ex-offenders. She opposes the plan.
“Once they ramp up and we start to use the beds, and they’ve hired people, it’ll be very hard to ramp them down." Lyman said. "If we have it open to us at all, there's going to be a lot of pressure for us to continue to use them."
Lyman said L.A. County should focus its resources on assisting people coming out of jail and prison with drug counseling and job training, rather than expanding the space in which L.A. can lock them up again.
She also argued it's better for inmates to be kept closer to home, where they can get support from their families and community groups.