African Americans make up less than 10 percent of Los Angeles County's total jail population, but account for more than 40 percent of those who have been classified as having a serious mental illness.
Students and faculty at the UCLA School of Law have prepared an eight-page report that alleges the LA County Jails are incarcerating racial minorities who are mentally ill inmates at unsettling rates.
The authors of the report feel that these inmate populations would be better served by other types of community-based programs and that jailing these men and women is not appropriate.
According to the report, black inmates are more likely to endure abuse from correctional officers, and their living conditions lead to increased deterioration of their mental state.
Additionally, this is in violation of international law. The authors felt so strongly about this, they have submitted a copy of the report to the United Nations human rights council.
Call for UN Action
Co-authors of the report have asked the UN to to step up and step in.
They want the county's elected officials to come up with alternative treatment programs for mentally ill prisoners. The report calls for the number of African American inmates cut in half by the year 2016.
The LA County Sheriff has said they're committed to making sure that inmates with mental health problems receive the type of care they need and they're equally committed to making sure all detainees are treated properly.
At the same time, this is not the first time the LA County Jails have been blasted for how they're managing inmates who are mentally ill.
In June, the federal government released a report that found that suicide rates within county lockups had started to skyrocket and that many of these deaths could have been prevented. In addition, they found mentally ill detainees were not receiving proper supervision and that severe overcrowding continues to be a problem.
Los Angeles jails have a serious problem in dealing with the mentally ill. It's time for the public to take notice.