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LA Supes Reorganize Men’s Central Jail Closure Efforts

Rat droppings and trash on the floor of Men's Central Jail, via Office of Inspector General
Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, April 9, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to move the county’s Jail Closure Implementation Team (JCIT) out of one department and into another, and to “empower” JCIT to actually close the dangerously run-down Men’s Central Jail, a goal the county has been working toward for more than a decade. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean the closure will happen any time soon. The board has changed its plans regarding what should replace the jail — and how and when to shut the jail down — multiple times. 

In August 2019, in the most important change of course, the supervisors voted to cancel a $1.7 billion contract to replace the jail, and to commit that money to implementing a “care first, jail last” ethic, instead.

Most recently, on January 30, 2024, the board was presented with report detailing what it would take to shutter the jail in five years. (Nearly three years earlier, the board received a plan to close the jail within 18-24 months.) 

Shutting the jail down is unquestionably urgent. 

“Closing MCJ is complicated and will require a number of interventions and steps, but it is necessary as the current conditions are unacceptable,” the supervisors wrote in their motion.

Those dehumanizing conditions in the overcrowded, dungeon-like jail include a serious rodent infestation in a restrictive housing area for incarcerated LGBTQ+ people, according to the latest Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on conditions within the jail system between October and December 2023.

Multiple people reported that they had been bitten by rats, and OIG staff saw a significant amount of rodent feces on the ground. People housed in the module had tried to block potential rodent entry points into their cells with plastic wrappers. The conditions persisted even after the OIG reported them to sheriff’s department command staff at the jail.

People housed in Men’s Central Jail also report severely inadequate medical care

The jail system as a whole has produced a high number of fatalities, especially in recent years. Since January 1, 2023, there have been at least 55 deaths. Most of those people died in LA’s jails without having been convicted of any crime.

Since the board chose to cancel the jail contract in 2019, there have been more than 130 deaths in Men’s Central Jail alone. 

The supervisors, who receive regular reports from the Office of Inspector General, are well aware of the jail deaths and the dangerous living conditions inside Men’s Central Jail. 

The new motion, which Supervisor Kathryn Barger abstained from voting on, says that the JCIT will be moved out of the county’s Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department (JCOD) and into the LA County Chief Executive Office. 

JCOD has been unable to sustain its primary functions and those needed to close the jail at the same time. JCOD was created to further the county’s “care first, jail last” mission by running non-clinical programs for justice-involved people. It took over some of the operations of the Office of Diversion and Reentry, and runs LA County’s fire camp training center, among other pretrial and reentry programs.

Because JCODs other endeavors have stretched staff too thin, according to the motion, the jail closure mission has suffered. 

“To date, JCIT has not transitioned from the information gathering stage to the development of an implementation plan,” the supervisors wrote. “Consequently, the Board and the CEO have not had the benefit of JCIT’s expertise in providing detailed, implementable, plans that move the closure of MCJ forward, illustrating how the Board can prioritize and organize the work currently being done by County departments to take those steps.” 

Other county departments with jail closure responsibilities have also failed to develop “detailed, implementable plans illustrating ways to improve the services they provide to those in the justice system or that address their roles in the County’s justice-system,” the motion stated. And, JCIT has not held county departments accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities related to closing the jail.

Thus, the LA County CEO will now oversee the jail closure team.

The department shuffle itself will take some time to complete. The motion directs the CEO and JCOD to report back to the board in 60 days with an organizational and staffing plan, and a timeline for getting the Jail Closure Implementation Team up and running under the CEO.

Once the transition is complete, the motion directs JCIT to hold meetings with relevant county justice and health department leaders to put together “an integrated timeline for when JCIT will finalize the first phase of substantive plans for how the County will take steps towards the closure of MCJ.” The county then wants the jail closure team and other departments to report back regularly to the board with progress updates.

For however long it takes the county to organize itself and produce more reports and plans, before taking real actions to depopulate and close the jail, people will continue to live and die in a decrepit and dangerous facility. 


  • The jail wasn’t supposed to be in operation this long. It has been held together with duct tape and baling wire for my nearly 20 years with the county… this cyclical game is so old. LASD will inevitably suffer due to yet another scheme to try and save face by other current county officials… the largest sheriffs dept in America hasn’t received a new facility in nearly 30 years….

    Let that sink in, Taylor. THIRTY YEARS! TTCF opened in 1997, and it’s already in super rough shape. The county (not the dept) has delayed replacing MCJ…and now LASD will suffer due to the deliberate indifference shown by previous elected officials.

    It doesn’t matter what county dept these people belong to… they cannot grasp the magnitude of what it would take to not only close/replace MCJ (with whatever you want to dupe taxpayers into believing the facility would be used for), but ensure those who will operate the facility truly understand the needs of the vulnerable inmate population.

  • The BOS “kicking the can” down the road. All the while inmates are dying and staff working in deplorable conditions. Care, what??

  • In reading this article, there were a few passages which stood out as well as some information being left out.
    First of all, the shuffling of the JCIT unit out of the JCOD (Justice, Care & Opportunities Department) to the L.A. County Chief Executive Office is intended to make it look as if the JCIT unit has more authority. However, the JCIT unit has been at it for a decade and has not come up with a viable solution. So by moving this unit under the direction of the Chief Executive Office, with its fancy nomenclature, this will provide the results being sought?
    Secondly, why did Kathryn Barger abstain from voting on this movement? Could there be some conflict of interest there? Could it possibly be to acquire additional funding? Or maybe, the real intent behind this move is not what it really should be?
    Thirdly, the Justice, Care & Opportunities Department (JCOD), which boasts a “care first, jail last” motto, can be translated to defund the police. Once again, a despised topic (incarceration), being played out with a more caring, sensitive, touchy feely title.
    If I am not mistaken, ol McD along with the BOS had agreed to convert MCJ into a mental health custody facility. In fact, money was allocated to begin the feasibility aspect of this idea. However, Ms. Solis decided to scrap this study, with approximately $80M of taxpayer money, going down the proverbial drain and not a wink of sleep was lost over that decision. Rumor has it that this was done to spite the new incoming Sheriff. Nonetheless, that $80M could have been used for other L.A. County services and or programs.
    Ms. Walker, you stated how the rodent problem was causing problems for the LGBTQ+ inmates. Maybe those were LGBTQ+ rodents? Excuse my levity. However, if there is a rodent problem in one area, suffice to say, the rodent problem exists in EVERY area.
    The Sheriff’s command staff is not responsible for the eradication of rodents (hmmm). This would be the responsibility of the Internal Services Department. Further, I am sure that the rodent problem has been addressed in the past and measures were taken to control the problem. I do not think that the rodent problem will ever be eradicated. Refer to your history books, as to how long rodents have been in existence. This would include there very distant cousins, the cockroaches.
    The deaths which you so eloquently mentioned have no specific data as to what was the cause of death. Were all these deaths attributable to the inmates health? Inmate vs. inmate death? Existing health conditions of the inmate(s). Drug overdose? Slip & fall? I think a little more specificity would shed some light on the actual inmate9s) deaths, rather than making a generalized, emotional statement.
    There are other county facilities that can be propped up to house/transfer some of these inmates, a section at a time, thus allowing for MCJ to get refurbished and or demolished, a section at a time. Or have some of these inmates transferred to other private holding facilities, during refurbishment.
    The bottom line here is that the BOS have been “kicking the can down the road” for quite some time and there is a reason for this. I am sure if you research this, you may find out. The BOS has spent millions of taxpayers dollars on a program without any feasible, workable plan at a cost of millions of dollars.

  • RE LA County Voter,

    There was a lot to unpack there. And you have some factual call out issues with Taylor’s story. LGBTQ+ folks, for example, are not in restrictive housing. They are in administrative segregation and that’s not by choice, that’s by court order, and they get the same services as GP folks. That arrangement remaines under ACLU perview should there be disagreement over the court order and access.

    But, sadly, a rodent problem at MCJ, if legitimate, is not ISDs concern. ISD does not manage the jails, just in a few cases the parking lots. Rodent control, both legally and under county agreements, falls under LASD. Whether that’s MCJ Ops, FSB, or whomever, it’s entirely an LASD concern.

  • The Rats have been a problem since MCJ opened. Both the rodent kind and the deputies! Build an equivalent jail before you close MCJ, its that simple.

  • Re; LASD Refugee

    Got a little carried away with the subject matter. I just have an issue when topics are taken out of context, embellished, not forthcoming with all the facts etc.

    LASD has been the whipping child of the BOS & MSM for quite some time now and it is not fair to those who go out and do a great job of dealing with the sh*! on a daily basis.

    Thanks for the clarification

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