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Commentary by Enaya Hanbali
| Monday, Jun 27, 2016

EnayaHanbaliResidents are worried about the women’s jail that is going to be built in Lancaster which is heavily supported by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale, Lake Los Angeles, Pasadena, Alhambra and other communities in northern Los Angeles County.

A group of residents of his district came together and formed the Antelope Valley People’s Coalition, which will be working with other coalitions in the district. According to the California Association of Counties, through AB 900 – the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007 – the women’s jail in Lancaster is going to cost the state of California about $1.625 billion and add about 4,000 beds to the Lancaster State Prison, which will take about 10,000 more inmates.

According to Critical Resistance Los Angeles, after they expand the prison, they will move about 2,000 women inside the Lynwood jail to the Lancaster site and demolish the mid-central jail in Los Angeles.

The Antelope Valley People’s Coalition doesn’t support the women’s jail proposal, because the jail-prison system has made several negative impacts on lower-class families in the Antelope Valley and throughout Los Angeles County by targeting them with racial profiling. It is abusing law enforcement as a method use of deportation, breaking families apart, and taking advantage of the disadvantages of living in poverty such as putting homeless individuals in jail for being on the streets. Critical Resistance and Los Angeles No More Jails state that 40 percent of inmates are in jail for nonviolent crime-related issues, and 46 percent of inmates are in jail because they cannot afford to pay their bail that was not crime-related.

The Antelope Valley People’s Coalition does not appreciate how Antonovich masks jails as service providers when the organization believes he is hurting people of color and women in his district on purpose due to his voting record on many civil-rights issues. It is unacceptable that he uses the term “women’s prison” as a soft jail concept. This proposal also scares the coalition because Antonovich has a voting record that supports discriminatory laws as he keeps pushing to build these prisons in the area. Lancaster also has a huge state prison in the area, and it is not necessary to continue to build more prisons in the area.

We need to come up with better and more effective solutions. The coalition believes the jail is a waste of tax dollars that can go toward better services that can make a much positive impact on our communities such as increasing mental health services, increasing shelters for the homeless population in the area, assisting those in need of affordable housing, building more schools and improving our education system.

Many of these crimes can be prevented with better alternatives. Our law enforcement needs to work on reaching out to the community, especially to minorities, to assure that the sheriff’s job is to protect them along with everyone else in society instead of profiling them. The Antelope Valley is known to be a high-low income area where there is a need to have better solutions and alternatives to enforce the laws and to come up with better alternatives than throwing people in jail.

Some possible alternatives can be for low-income individuals who are violating the laws in a non-violent manner, to assist them in making up payments in the trade-off of doing mandatory community service, or provide mental health services or rehab or any other service that is for only nonviolent individuals that have penalties that does not endanger the public’s safety.

The final approval is going to be in September 2016 as the Antelope Valley People’s Coalition is coming up with a plan to overcome this hostile policy toward minorities.

[Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007]

 

Enaya Hanbali is a native Southern Californian of Arab American descent. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in public policy and administration from California State University, Long Beach.

 

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4 Comments

  1. gary horton says:

    Anaya, I would like to learn more.

    Please write me at ghorton@landscapedevelopment.com.

    Thank you.

    Gary

  2. Ruben says:

    It isn’t a hostile policy towards minorities; sounds like you already assume minorities will commit more crimes, maybe you are being racist?

  3. Javi says:

    Anaya, I think you need to go and walk around Long Beach and Palmdale by yourself for a couple of hours. Come back and tell us what you think after that.

  4. Mike says:

    Enaya, wow, that is quite a task. If you have an opportunity to see how low middle class african americans without criminal records are given records & jail time (criminalizing a 16 year old’s request to live with his dad) take a look at case # PD044757 (originated in SFV ->LA->SCV) . The waste and mistreatment will shock you.

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