Barger Reacts to Outcome of Board of Supervisors’ Vote on Providing Mental Health Services to Incarcerated Individuals

Los Angeles, CA (September 27, 2022) – Today, a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger that called for the County to comply with the constitution and report back with non-custodial, secure mental health treatment facility models for incarcerated individuals who cannot be diverted was rejected by the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Barger issued the following statement reacting to the outcome of the vote:

“I’m disappointed that my motion was mischaracterized as a call to build a new jail that would provide mental health treatment. It was not. In fact – it was nearly the equivalent of a very similar motion that was approved by the Board today. 

Both motions called for a secure and non-custodial alternative where we can effectively care for those who are currently detained and deteriorating while under the County’s supervision. 

We must face the hard reality that we will always have individuals who will not qualify for diversion programs due to the nature of their crimes. It’s wrong to pit a ‘care first, jails last’ public policy approach against providing compassionate mental health care to individuals who must legally remain in custody. Both efforts can – and should – complement each other. 

Regardless, I am relieved that the Board has finally taken a step toward acknowledging the need for locked mental health treatment beds. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to those in our jails.”

The motion was also focused on achieving compliance with a federal court consent decree. The relevant provisions which the County must comply with are:

  • Provision 63: “The County and Sheriff will maintain adequate High Observation Housing and Moderate Observation Housing sufficient to meet the needs of the jail population with mental illness. . .”
  • Provision 64: The County/Sheriff must develop a long‐term plan “to reasonably assure the availability of licensed inpatient mental health care.” The plan must describe the capacity required, strategies that will be used to obtain additional capacity, and resources necessary for implementation.
  • Provision 80: “The County will continue to make best efforts to provide appropriate out‐of‐cell time to all prisoners with serious mental illness . . .” including 100% of all HOH inmates with ten hours of unstructured out‐of‐cell rec time and ten hours of structured therapeutic or programmatic time per week.