While most discussions about the election are around the presidential race, voters in LA County should be just as focused on Measure J and the DA’s race. Creating the change we want in our communities requires bold measures like Measure J. The coalition behind the measure, Re-Imagine L.A. County Coalition, arose from the communities that are most in need of services and most negatively impacted by our criminal justice system.
Measure J, also known as Reimagine LA, would direct at least 10% of LA County’s general fund to community investment and alternatives to incarceration, and prohibit the use of those funds for law enforcement or prisons/jails. Measure J is a first step toward defunding the police in favor of addressing the root causes of crime, such as a lack of living wage jobs, a lack of access to business loans, a lack of mental health services, a lack of youth programs, and housing insecurity. The goal is to shift budget priorities from law enforcement and the criminal justice system, which were allocated a whopping 42% of the County’s budget ($3.7 billion). Study after study proves that more policing does not make communities safer - opportunities and services do. If passed, Measure J would:
• Increase funding for community-based youth development programs
• Provide career training and jobs to low-income residents focusing on jobs that support the implementation of the “Alternatives to Incarceration” workgroup recommendations, especially construction jobs for the expansion of affordable & supportive housing, and a decentralized system of care
• Create access to capital for small minority-owned businesses, with a focus on Black-owned businesses
• Provide rent assistance and housing vouchers to those at-risk of losing their housing, or without stable housing
• Provide capital funding for affordable housing, transitional housing and supportive housing
Increase funding for community-based restorative justice programs
• Increase support for pre-trial non-custody services and treatment
• Increase life-affirming community-based counseling and mental health and wellness services
While there may be a great deal of fearmongering spread by law enforcement groups who claim that any decrease in their budgets would lead to chaos on the streets, we’ve seen over the summer that police officers and sheriff deputies have often incited violence in the streets by escalating interactions with protesters whose viewpoints they don’t agree with. Law enforcement has been emboldened by a bloated budget and high-powered boosters for too long. We’re seeing the very real consequences of law enforcement agencies having billions of dollars at their disposal without being heldaccountable for harming and killing the people they’re supposed to serve. Measure J would be a pivotal shift toward uplifting communities harmed most by racial disparities and away from funding their continued oppression.