John Scott

Sachi Hamai, right, then-executive officer to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, administers the oath of office to interim Sheriff John Scott on Jan. 30, 2014. Hamai is now the county’s interim chief executive officer and Scott has been replaced by Sheriff Jim McDonnell. (Allen J. Schaben)

By Abby Sewell
April 13, 2014

Los Angeles County officials plan to spend more than $100 million over the next year to reduce abuses in the county’s crowded jails, improve treatment of mentally ill inmates and divert others with mental health issues from entering lockups.

On Monday, administrators released a proposed $26.9-billion budget to operate the nation’s largest local government for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

As well as continuing jail reforms that have been driven in part by pressure from federal authorities, the proposed spending plan sets aside money for improvements in the county healthcare system driven by the Affordable Care Act and for ongoing reforms in the child welfare system.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who praised the spending proposal, noted that it is the first budget developed after a major shift in county leadership late last year.

Two of the county’s five supervisors were elected last year, as were Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and county Assessor Jeffrey Prang. And longtime Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka retired, with a successor yet to be named.

The priorities outlined in the budget proposal are largely a continuation of measures that started under the old leadership. But Sachi Hamai, the interim chief executive, said that now that the county has fully emerged from the recession, more resources can go into needed improvements.

“This budget is not about recovery any longer, but it is more about reform in the county,” she said.

The budget would allocate $75 million to continuing jail changes. The current year’s budget included $36.5 million to implement recommendations by a commission that studied violence in the jail system, including staffing the inspector general’s office and placing more supervisors and cameras in the facilities to monitor the conduct of inmates and jailers.

To read entire story, click here.