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Los Angeles County Leaders Interested in Broad Drug Policy Reforms

March 17, 2020

County supervisors in the jurisdiction with the nation's largest jail population are moving toward embracing a drug policy reform agenda that includes decriminalizing drug offenses and establishing safe consumption sites.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this month accepted an Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) report and voted to proceed toward creating the initial infrastructure for ATI, which would include establishing an ATI unit in the office of the county's chief executive.

“It should come as no surprise that treating substance use and mental health issues with incarceration has only exacerbated the harms associated with them, and so we owe it to ourselves to try something different that has shown promising results in other jurisdictions,” Jeannette Zanipatin, Drug Policy Alliance state director for California, said in a news release.

An estimated 60% of jail inmates in Los Angeles County have a substance use disorder. Other recommendations in the ATI report include expanding emergency psychiatric care and establishing more programs tailored to the LGBTQ community.

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