Letters to the Editor: ‘No more jails’ in L.A.? It’s not only realistic, but also necessary

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: An L.A. Times article questions whether it’s “realistic” to implement the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ vision of coordinated, community-based care for people with mental health needs who have been arrested.

From our work supporting L.A. County’s Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group, we know it’s not just realistic. It’s already being done successfully across the country.

Cities like New York, San Antonio and Tucson are investing in community care and diversion instead of incarceration. Miami-Dade County in Florida has diverted thousands into a continuum of community-based treatment. The result: an average daily jail population cut nearly in half, a jail being closed, and improved public safety.


This works because community-based care promotes better outcomes for people with mental health conditions. Investing in it is more sensible than reinvesting in the same responses that have fueled cycles of incarceration.

Michelle Parris, Los Angeles

The writer is a senior planner at the Vera Institute of Justice.