The LA County Board of Supervisors has confirmed they are considering a plan that would construct a women’s village at the Pitchess Detention Center.
The official proposal was submitted earlier this week by an LA-based construction management company. The woman’s village is just one-part of a multi-prong solution to replacing the Men’s Central Jail. That replacement of that facility has long been on the county’s chopping block.
Proponents of the demolition reportedly say the facility is very old, outdated and too expensive to run. They have been advocating for a plan that involves tearing it down and constructing upgraded facilities. The first would hold mentally ill detainees. This is needed due to the state’s inmate realignment program.
As part of the realignment a large number of state prisoners are being transferred to county jails to serve out the remainder of their sentences. Many of these inmates have multi-year sentences. The county says they need upgraded medical facilities in order to address the long term health and mental-health care needs of prisoners.
A second prong to this approach involves building Pitchess Detention Center Women’s Village. If approved, up to 1,100 female inmates could be housed here. It would be designed to hold non-violent, non-serious and non-sexual offenders.
Not everyone thinks adding bed space is the best course of action. Opponents say that building more jails does not lead to increased public safety. Jails do not reduce crime, they said. They simply house offenders until their sentences are served. Recidivism rates continue to be very high.
They feel the monies would be better spent on programs that focus on rehabilitation. These include educational opportunities, drug and alcohol treatment programs and job placement services.
The Pitchess Detention Center expansion is just one segment of the five plans being looked at by the county. Elected officials say they need to take a closer look at detention needs in order to make a final decision.
This includes evaluating alternatives to incarceration and anticipated long-term needs. They also need to consider operating costs, upkeep and staffing budgets. Construction costs alone could topple $1.6 billion.
The supervisors have said they will be taking a closer look at the proposed plans and will make a final determination in the future. They have not said when they will make a final vote on the Pitchess Detention Center Women’s Village.