Building Safety in Los Angeles a Policy Agenda for Local Health and Safer Communities
Los Angeles County is home to the nation’s largest jail system, which also has become the nation’s largest de facto mental health facility. In the face of lawsuits and concerns over jail overcrowding, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $2.2 billion contract to construct new jails for women and people with mental health and substance use disorders. However, years of community organizing as well as a changing political tide persuaded the Board to cancel the contract and invest in health-centered approaches to reduce the jail population rather than build new jails. This opened space for new strategies that invest in community health and lay the foundation for a comprehensive approach to creating safety.