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Supervisors ask for further review of near $1 billion jail project

Posted: March 19, 2013 6:51 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:51 p.m.

County supervisors put a temporary hold Tuesday on a proposal to build a new downtown Los Angeles jail — with a price tag of almost $1 billion.

Supervisors asked for more study before deciding to move ahead with a design plans and an environmental impact report required before a jail could be approved.

The anticipated price tag would be $932.8 million, according to Los Angeles County documents.

The project would be entirely funded by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, according to board documents.

Plans call for the jail to replace the “aging, deteriorating and outdated” Men’s Central Jail, which was built in two phases, one in 1960 and one in 1970, and has a population of about 4,500 inmates.

The rationale behind the proposal is the need to address the county’s increasing jail population, in part a result of the so-called “realignment” of some prisoners from state supervision to county care.

Assembly Bill 109, which took effect in October 2011, diverted felons whose offenses were non-violent, non-sexual and non-serious in nature from state to county supervision.

As a result of these so-called non-non-nons, the average daily population of Los Angeles County jails has grown from approximately 15,400 inmates before realignment to more than 17,500 in January.

The new jail, as proposed, would house high-security inmates and inmates who require high levels of medical care or attention, according to board documents.

Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Gloria Molina requested the county hire a consultant to thoroughly study the proposal and prepare a report for the board within the next 60 days.

“A comprehensive plan — not a piecemeal approach — is required for an informed and fiscally prudent decision,” Antonovich said.

Supervisors unanimously approved further study, including a comprehensive report on existing county jail facilities and a construction time line for the replacement jail.
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