The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a long-awaited plan to demolish the archaic Men's Central Jail in Downtown - with a twist. After four years of pursuing the construction of a 3,885-bed prison focused on mental health treatment, the Supervisors have instead endorsed a plan to build a mental health hospital.
The revised project would fall under the purview of the Department of Health Services, rather than the Sheriff's Department, which manages the County jail system. The alternative plan would still be built within the same $2.2-billion construction contract which was awarded to McCarthy Building Companies.
Until recently, the County Supervisors had been set to approve the original iteration of the project - the Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility - which would have replaced the more than 50-year-old Men's Central Jail with a hulking 2.4-million-square-foot complex. According to the environmental study conducted for the CCTF project, it could have included up to two towers standing as tall as 400 feet.
Specifics on the revised plan are in short supply, however. The proposed hospital could be a centralized facility at the current site of Men's Central Jail, or alternatively, could be built as a series of smaller, dispersed facilities.
A press release from Supervisor Janice Hahn states that the Departments of Mental Health, Public Health, and Health Services have been instructed to report back on the "right size, scale, and scope of the project."
The amended project, which was co-sponsored by Hahn and 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, was also supported by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, but did not receive the unanimous support of the Board. The Los Angeles Times reports that Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis both voted in opposition, arguing that the project would still lead to a large facility with poor patient outcomes.