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L.A. County Board Considers Expanding Mental Health Services For LGBTQ+ Jail Population

The board motion requires three votes to pass.

By CBS Los Angeles , in Los Angeles , at October 19, 2021

original article published at https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2021/10/19/l-a-county-board-considers-expanding-mental-health-services-for-lgbtq-jail-population/

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion Tuesday to expand mental health treatment and other supportive services for LGBTQ and transgender people, both inside and out of county jails.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the motion’s lead author, said the proposal also addresses a concern that too many women — including those who are pregnant or elderly — are being needlessly jailed.

“(It) focuses on two specific, and often overlooked, segments of our jail population — women and LGB and transgender/nonconforming people,” Kuehl said during a briefing for reporters ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

The board motion requires three votes to pass.

There are about 1,300 inmates held daily at Century Regional Detention Facility, the county’s women’s jail in Lynwood.

A 2020 RAND Corporation analysis estimated that roughly one-third of women in county jail have mental health issues and that nearly three-quarters of those women could be safely treated outside a jail setting.

However, releasing them would require significantly ramping up the number of available inpatient and outpatient beds in the community.

Reliable data on the LGBTQ+ population in Los Angeles County jails is not currently available, but a national survey indicates that roughly one-third of women behind bars across the country identify as lesbian or bisexual. The board motion also calls for additional data gathering.

The motion also references a goal to shut down Men’s Central Jail — without a replacement — as central to that vision, although that particular objective is opposed by both Sheriff Alex Villanueva — who runs the jails — and Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Both Barger and the sheriff agree that the dangerously decrepit jail must be closed, but believe a replacement is needed to house and treat inmates who cannot be safely released, particularly given the current lack of community infrastructure.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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