LOS ANGELES, CA – Actress and activist Jane Fonda announced her support Sunday for a campaign to bring more transparency and public accountability to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and to ensure that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the governing body for America’s most populous county and largest jail system, invests some of the $3.5 billion planned for building new jails into providing alternatives to incarceration.
Award-winning artist John Legend announced his support just days after the birth of his new son. Fond joins others in Hollywood including actress Alyssa Milano, Matt McGorry (“Orange is the New Black,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Kendrick Sampson (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Shailene Woodley (“Big Little Lies”), Jason George (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Station 19”), Bojana Novakovic (“Instinct”), Sophia Bush (“Chicago P.D.”) and Fifth Harmony singer Lauren Michelle Jauregu have taken to social media to ask registered voters in Los Angeles County to sign the petition for the Reform Jails and Community Reinvestment Initiative to ensure that ballot measure is on the November general election ballot.
“We’re incredibly honored and humbled to have the support of Ms. Fonda,” said campaign director Jasmyne Cannick. “In addition to being a living legend, Ms. Fonda has spent her life fighting for and supporting the causes she truly believes in.”
“L.A. is home to the largest jail system in the world and it’s time for us to change that,” said John Legend. “I support the Reform L.A. Jails ballot measure because it is our opportunity to bring public accountability and transparency to the Sheriff’s Department.”
“The fatal shooting of Stephon Clark has captured the nation’s attention and elevated the conversation around whether police can and should investigate themselves, especially when the public’s trust weighs in the balance,” added Cannick. “But like most citizen watchdog groups established by mayors and city councils in cities in the wake of mounting concern over the question of “Who polices the police?” the L.A. Sheriff’s’ Department Civilian Oversight Commission is merely advisory.
Cannick continued, “Most independent oversight commissions lack independence. They are unable to conduct their own investigations, subpoena records or to compel the testimonies of police officers and their superiors accused of wrongdoing. The Reform L.A. Jails ballot measure fixes that and gives the commission power to provide true transparency and accountability to the public.”
In 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to implement a Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission with the mission to improve public transparency and accountability for the Sheriff’s Department.
Two years later, Los Angeles County is still plagued with misconduct in the Sheriff’s Department including deputies trafficking drugs, deputies raping female inmates under the color of authority, deputies assigned to narcotics skimming money, the continuous widespread reports of inmates being mistreated in our jails, and the countless “suicides” of inmates who were allegedly under the watchful eye of deputies.
To identify, expose and end corruption and misconduct in the Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County needs an independent Civilian Oversight Commission with the power to subpoena records and to compel the testimony of deputies and their superiors accused of wrongdoing–not one that is merely advisory.
“There are two unacceptable problems with LA’s jail system–millions of dollars wasted on a revolving door and no accountability for the people in charge of running the largest jail system in the world,” said Reform L.A. Jails Chair and proponent Patrisse Cullors.
“LA’s jail system is broken. It’s costly and ineffective, wasting millions of dollars to incarcerate people struggling with mental illness, addiction and homelessness and there’s also no accountability for misconduct and abuse by sheriff’s deputies,” continued Cullors. “John Legend continues to be a champion for social justice and we’re humbled in L.A. to have his support of the Reform L.A. Jails ballot measure.”
The Reform Jails and Community Reinvestment Initiative will also task the Civilian Oversight Commission with developing a Comprehensive Public Safety Reinvestment Plan (the “Plan”) and Feasibility Study to reduce jail populations and to redirect the cost savings to alternatives to incarceration.
The Plan will pave the way for the County of Los Angeles to reduce recidivism, prevent crime, and permanently reduce the population of people cycling into and out of jail that are experiencing mental health, drug dependency, or chronic homelessness issues.
Reform L.A. Jails needs to collect 170,000 signatures of registered voters in Los Angeles County to qualify for the November 2018 ballot. To get involved with the campaign and to sign the petition, please visit www.ReformLAJails.com.