Los Angeles County operates the largest jail system and de-facto mental health facility in the United States, holding more than 17,000 people daily, nearly 30% of whom have a serious mental health disorder. Residents of color are disproportionately incarcerated, with Black residents accounting for only 9% of the total population but 29% of those imprisoned. Over 40% of all people in the jail system are held pretrial before any conviction, with a median length of stay of ten days. This means that some of L.A. County’s most vulnerable individuals are cycling in and out of jails without receiving the meaningful care or services they need. In recent years, the County has taken several steps to reduce its reliance on incarceration and expand diversion and treatment programs. This includes conducting a successful pre-plea mental health diversion pilot and formalizing the groundbreaking “Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative” (ATI).
Through the ATI, the County will scale its successful programs to ensure it can provide health supports and alternative sentencing options to people who would be more effectively treated in a diversion context rather than in jail. FUSE will partner with L.A. County to scale this pre-plea diversion pilot into a new Rapid Diversion Program under the County’s Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative. FUSE will work to implement a cohesive and effective program for eight courthouses in the next year, supporting a sustained and significant reduction in the County jail population.