Crime and arrests in Los Angeles County continue to decline. On the countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee's website, the first annual report on public safety realignment shows recidivism rates lower than expected for people transferred from state prison to county supervision. Yet the same report says the population of L.A. County jails has risen by 22%. Why?
In a 2007 study, USC psychiatry professor H. Richard Lamb found that 95% of the severely mentally ill men in the county's Twin Towers jail had been there before. A 2010 study, also by Lamb, found that as states closed mental hospitals, three times as many mentally ill people were being admitted to county jails as mental hospitals.
Do we need more studies, or do we need to wake up to what we already know? It is too expensive and too cruel to house mentally ill people in jails.