The Los Angeles chapter of No More Jails Coalition is taking it to the streets today, telling L.A. County supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Molina, Don Knabe, and Mike Antonovich that the plan for embattled Sheriff Lee Baca to build a new women's jail is a crazy way to spend millions of tax dollars.

“We don't need these new jail cells, we don't want these new jail cells, we can't afford these new jail cells,” says Mary Sutton of Critical Resistance, a member of the No More Jails coalition, in a press statement.

Sutton and other activists say the supervisors should instead spend money on programs such as drug treatment, housing, education, and job training. They're holding a mass protest in front of Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown today. But will the supervisors listen?

In her press statement, Sutton adds, “This is another of the Sheriff's extravagant boondoggles. We can make real reductions in the so-called 'need' for jail beds through programs like evidence-based pre-trial assessment, bail reform and community mental health services. How many people are being held pre-trial because they can't afford to make bail?”

Kim McGill, a former prisoner in L.A. County Jail, who works with the Youth Justice Coalition and the L.A. No More Jails coalition, adds in a press statement, “Unlike Sheriff Baca, we've actually talked to women who have been locked in L.A.'s jails. Some of us have been locked in these notorious jails ourselves, so we know what sorts of programs women need to improve their lives.”

She adds, “Women don't need a new jail or a better jail. They need programs in the community that will help them stay on their feet and support their families.”

Activists are clearly not pleased with Baca, saying that while he advocates a new jail for women that he cutely describes as a “rehabilitative village,” the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is “under multiple investigations for abusing people locked in its jails.”

Read the L.A. Weekly feature story “Men's County Jail Visitor Viciously Beaten by Guards.”

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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