Urgent Appeal to LA-Area Clergy Leaders: Now Is the Time to Raise Our Voices Against Incarcerating the Mentally Ill

To All Justice Not Jails Supporters & Friends:

Earlier this month—on January 8—the cause of criminal justice reform in LA got a major boost when the LA County Board of Supervisors backed away from the absolutely terrible idea of building a new women’s jail in Lancaster and moving the 2,200 women inmates currently housed in Lynwood to a high desert location that is far removed from the women’s loved ones and that is also sorely lacking in needed services for the women.

But there is still another terrible idea on the table: building a huge new “mental health jail” in downtown Los Angeles. The so-called Consolidated Care Treatment Facility (CCTF) will cost so much to build and staff that community-based services for the mentally ill population would continue to be starved for funding. But it is also deeply immoral and counterproductive to try to “treat” mental illness in an incarceration facility. Justice Not Jails made this point at length in a newsletter published late last year.

If you are a clergy person, we know it’s a busy time. But this is an action you can take in 15 minutes and in the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose legacy we celebrate this month.

If you are not a clergy member but belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, we urge you to ask your pastor, rabbi, or imam to write a letter on this urgent matter.

We show below the contact information for all five county supervisors. The same message can and should be sent to all five supervisors, as this is a matter of countywide concern.

Here is a sample email message (and feel free to use your own words in the message you send):

Dear Supervisor ______________________,

Everything we know about mental illness argues against attempting to treat the mentally ill in a jail facility. Standard security procedures along with the trained-in control behaviors of law enforcement personnel will always undermine best clinical practices in a jail setting. These procedures and behaviors will often even trigger mental health episodes that would not otherwise occur–and that would certainly not occur in a proper therapeutic environment.

For this reason, it is both immoral and unwise to move forward with constructing the CCTF. The vast sums required to build and staff it will ensure that community-based treatment of the mentally ill will continue to be starved for funding and that the worthy and promising efforts of LA County’s new Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) will fall short of their potential.

I am grateful that the Board is already rethinking its terrible plan to move women jail inmates to far-away Lancaster. It is my hope and prayer that you will likewise rethink and then drop an equally terrible plan to build a huge new mental health jail in downtown Los Angeles.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Your Title and Name
Your House of Worship or Other Religious Affiliation
Your Street Address
Your Phone Number


Rev. Larry Foy, Justice Not Jails coordinator

To find your district, go here

  • Sup. Hilda Solis 1st Dist. Rm. 856 (213) 974-4111
  • Sup. Mark Ridley-Thomas 2nd Dist. Rm.866 (213) 974-2222
  • Sup. Sheila Kuehl 3rd Dist. Rm. 82 (213) 974-3333
  • Sup. Janice Hahn 4th Dist. Rm. 822 (213)-974-4444
  • Sup. Kathryn Barger 5th Dist. Rm. 869 (213) 974-5555

Rev. Larry Foy
Justice Not Jails Coordinator

Contact Info:  310-857-4930; email:

January 8 protest gathering:  Rally Against Toxic Women’s Jail