Mira Loma files

NO DEAL? — The future of a proposal for a 1,604-bed women’s jail at the site of the historic Mira Loma Jail is in doubt after two Los Angeles County supervisors expressed reservations. The supervisors are scheduled to vote today on the proposal.

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County’s plan to ret­ro­fit an immigration de­ten­tion center in Lancaster as a women’s jail, long op­posed by criminal justice ad­vo­cates, may not have the votes it needs to move forward, based on a state­ment issued Monday by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

“The location of the pro­posed women’s jail at Mira Loma poses sig­nif­i­cant, and in my opinion, in­sur­mountable obstacles to our goal of creating a women’s jail that is the centerpiece of a gender-responsive cor­rec­tions system,” Kuehl wrote. “Mira Loma is too far away from the home com­mu­nities of the women who would be housed there, and too far away from family members who would need to visit.”

Kuehl’s statement fol­lowed one issued Sunday by Supervisor Hilda Solis.

“Visitation is a huge part of ensuring rehabilitation and reducing recidivism for women,” Solis said. “Many of the women who are incarcerated in L.A. Coun­ty are mothers, and it is crucial that they maintain in-person visits with their children and families.”

Kuehl is asking that a vote planned for today on the Mira Loma Detention Center be postponed two weeks, but her statement may be the death knell for the project, which requires four votes from the five-member Board of  Supervisors for approval.

The Department of Pub­lic Works had rec­om­mend­ed approval of a $215 mil­lion budget and the award of a design-build con­struc­tion contract to San Fernando Valley-based Bernards Bros. Inc. to renovate the facility. The state approved $100 mil­lion in funding for the work in 2014.

The board approved the project in concept in 2015, though Solis abstained from the vote and she and Kuehl called for strat­egies to overcome the chal­­lenges posed by the fac­ility’s location. Kuehl said no cohesive plans for transportation, visitation or programming have been created.

On Wednesday, the Los An­geles Times’ editorial board penned an editorial say­ing the project would “make a mockery of (the board’s) commitment to bet­ter the lives of women and girls.”

The newspaper board urged the supervisors to re­con­sider the location and put more emphasis on diverting women from jail and into treatment when­ever possible.

Though the vote is like­ly to be postponed, sub­ject matter experts and justice advocates who have protested the plan for years are expected to turn out to share their per­spec­tives.

Kuehl also asked that a vote on the planned $2.2 billion Consolidated Cor­rec­tional Treatment Fac­il­ity to replace Men’s Cen­tral Jail be delayed two weeks. DPW has proposed a rough­­ly $30 million budget increase and aw­ard­ing if a contract to McCar­thy Buil­ding Com­pan­ies, Inc.

Kuehl maintained her support for the men’s jail in her statement.

“L.A. County is making progress in its effort to build a culture of re­hab­il­ita­tion,” she said.

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