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Building an L.A. County jail in the desert is cruel and counterproductive

Building an L.A. County jail in the desert is cruel and counterproductive
A portion of the Mira Loma jail site in Lancaster in 1996. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

To the editor: I cannot agree more with the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board about the proposed Los Angeles County women’s jail in Lancaster.

It is incomprehensible that anyone would think it is a good idea to move the far too many incarcerated women to a jail that is more than an hour’s drive from much of greater Los Angeles — a location where the distance will prevent children from visiting their mothers, husbands from visiting their wives and lawyers from visiting their clients.

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This community would be safer and better served if the money spent on this jail construction project was instead used to provide community-based programs and placement designed to treat women and divert them out of the criminal justice system.

Jennifer Friedman, Los Angeles

The writer is deputy public defender of Los Angeles County.

..

To the editor: There’s nothing in the editorial about the prison that already sits on the Mira Loma Detention Center site in Lancaster. In fact, I worked there for three years.

The current facilities were built and opened in 1986, with 16 barracks, a recreation building, a craft building, school rooms, a medical facility and even a library. The site has not been used since 2012, but it could be reopened at little expense.

Why build a new women’s jail at Mira Loma? The answer is in the editorial: “The county seems determined to move forward chiefly because it won a state grant several years ago to pay for the project, and it doesn't want to lose the money.”

As always, it’s about the money, with little regard to common sense or fiscal restraint.

Trent Sanders, La Cañada Flintridge

..

To the editor: Sometimes the solution can be right in front of our faces.

The deactivated women’s jail in City Terrace still stands. With some updates the facility could serve as a stopgap. Later, it could serve as a staging area.

Why not start reactivating this jail? Update the site in City Terrace now, then build and operate smaller jails for women throughout Los Angeles County. We may find some areas more welcoming than we might expect to incarcerated individuals.

This is not insane, it is humane.

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Thomas H. Jenkins, Alhambra

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