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L.A. Can't Afford to Use Its Expensive New Jail

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Los Angeles has spent $74 million building a new jail--that we can't afford to use.

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The L.A. Times explains how our prison investment is not paying off:

As far as jails go, the Los Angeles Police Department's gleaming, new Metropolitan Detention Center is about as good as it gets.

Armed with more than $70 million in public funds, the department spared little expense four years ago when it started construction on the 172,000-square-foot, five-floor structure that is one of the largest of its kind.....

The new detention center sits empty because of the city's dire fiscal crisis, which has left the LAPD unable to hire enough jailers to operate the large, labor-intensive facility.

When construction started, police officials never anticipated that the city would be locked in a budget crisis and hiring freeze when it was time to hire additional jailers. But now, with the LAPD increasingly desperate to vacate a dilapidated, overcrowded downtown jail that the new one is meant to replace, department leaders are mulling ways of redirecting staff and other resources.

Options include shutting down our antiquated downtown jail and four or seven satellite jails built into LAPD stations, which would get us 56 of the 100 extra employees to run the new, empty jail. Hiring the other 44 will still be tough for our cash-strapped city. The City Council's Public Safety Committee is slated to come up with a plan, after advise from the city's chief administrative office on costs, to offer to the full council by the end of the month on how to deal with our jail crisis.

City of Angles blogging on the forthcoming Supreme Court case regarding whether California needs to release prisoners to meet medical care requirements for remaining inmates.

California's Legislative Analyst's office details what it costs to incarcerate someone in California.

Image taken by Flickr user 888bailbond. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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