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'Dawdling on the Prison'

February 11, 1986

The Times' support for a new state prison near East Los Angeles is wrong.

The logic of fair play has mandated that Los Angeles County host a new state prison, since 38% of the state's inmates come from the area. The same standard of equity argues against the building of this facility near East Los Angeles.

More than 12,000 inmates, 75% of the county total, are crowded into adult and juvenile detention facilities near our community. This includes the largest jails in the United States. A new federal prison is under construction two miles from Crown Coach. No area of California, let alone Los Angeles County, is as heavily impacted by lockups.

In addition, a new $500-million jail bond measure is currently passing the Legislature. This could lead to even further expansion of the existing jails.

Assembly Bill 2547, which I introduced last year, responds to this overconcentration issue. The argument against one community bearing more than its fair share is clear and compelling. AB 2547 was approved by the Assembly and will soon be heard in the Senate.

The Times' main argument for a prison near East Los Angeles is convenience. This brings to mind the history of our community. It was no doubt convenient to put 75% of Los Angeles County's prisoners here in the first place. It was also convenient to run an unprecedented five freeways through our neighborhoods.

However when it's time to allocate funds for new schools, enterprise zones or other positive projects, I no longer hear how convenient East Los Angeles would be. One exception is the recent decision by the state to open up a new employment office here.

The Times can exercise its leadership by calling on the Department of Corrections to immediately hold an open public meeting on their proposal to build a medium security prison at 12th and Santa Fe, prepare the impact study required by state law before land is purchased and submit a factual comparison of alternate sites to support the claim that 12th and Santa Fe is the best choice for a prison.

And I must demand on behalf of the residents of Eastern Los Angeles that The Times editorial board review the facts before dashing off further editorials on the state prison issue.

GLORIA MOLINA

Assemblywoman

56th District

Los Angeles

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