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Jail Transport Chaos: Broken Buses in Los Angeles County Jail Inmates Hinder Access to Court and Medical Care

(PHOTO: Spectrum News)

Transportation Crisis Grips Los Angeles County Jails

Jail Transport Chaos: Broken Buses in Los Angeles County Jail Inmates Hinder Access to Court and Medical Care. (PHOTO: Alamy)

Efforts to Address Crisis Hindered by Procurement Delays

According to Press-Telegram, amid a dire transportation crisis, up to one-third of inmates in Los Angeles County jails are unable to make their court appearances due to a shortage of functioning buses as reported by county officials on Tuesday, March 19. The breakdown in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s, Los Angeles County jail inmate transportation system has resulted in overcrowded jails preventing many Los Angeles County jail inmates from attending court proceedings where they could potentially be released or sentenced differently. Compounded by the high number of pretrial detainees comprising around 52% of the jail population this issue highlights systemic challenges in the justice system where individuals often languish behind bars due to an inability to post bail or await sentencing. Despite commitments to address overcrowding including plans to close Men’s Central Jail efforts have been stymied by the persistent transportation dilemma. The Board of Supervisors earmarked funds for additional buses in the current budget, but procurement delays mean relief won’t arrive for at least another 1 1/2 years. With only 23 operable buses out of 82, the sheriff’s department struggles to maintain transportation services leading to missed court dates and mounting frustration among supervisors. As the situation worsens urgent interim measures are being considered including sourcing buses from neighboring counties and exploring partnerships with transit agencies to expedite procurement.

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Board of Supervisors Takes Action to Tackle Transportation Crisis

The problem prompted the Board of Supervisors to overwhelmingly support a proposal to create a temporary transportation plan within 45 days, looking for quick fixes to lessen the impact on the jail inmates’ access to justice in Los Angeles County. To ease the burden on the transportation system, ideas include investigating remote court appearances and utilizing underutilized buses from nearby jurisdictions. Long-term solutions to address the root causes of the transportation deficit are also being considered, including partnerships with transit authorities and more astute procurement techniques. The rights of Los Angeles County jail inmates to prompt court processes are at risk, thus the county is under increasing pressure to address the transportation issue and maintain the values of justice and equity across its prison system.

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