If Measure R is approved in March, there could be more justice and rehabilitation for the thousands of Latino prisoners.

A recently published report showed that Los Angeles County has more than 10 million people, of which about 50% identify themselves as Latinos.

Similarly, Los Angeles County prisons also have a significant number of Latinos. Currently, the United States has 2,850 prison jurisdictions and Los Angeles County is the largest of all. The seven jails in the system house approximately 17,000 prisoners daily, of which one in two incarcerated are of Hispanic origin.

The system is responsible for imprisoning those found guilty of a crime, but has minimal rehabilitation options. This causes a destructive impact for the prisoner and his relatives, according to the study.

Latinos are incarcerated without being convicted and are waiting for due process. There is also a disproportionate amount of Latinas in the Los Angeles County penitentiary system.

"Many of the people who are there have committed different crimes such as problems with alcohol and drugs, or have mental problems and all are in one place," said Lydia Camarillo, president of the Willy C. Vázquez Institute, an entity that supports a reform of the prison system. "You are not investing properly to serve each group."

To fight against this inequality and allow adequate services to be offered during incarceration, dozens of entities are supporting Measure R that will be on the ballot of elections on March 3.

Los Angeles County jails house felony criminals along with people who have committed minor crimes. (Archive)

Measure R is also known as the "Reform of prisons and the community investment initiative"; if approved, the measure would request that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Civil Oversight Commission develop a comprehensive plan for reinvestment in public safety and a feasibility study to reduce the prison population in the county. All this would have to be over a period of seven months, using existing resources such as Proposition 47 and Measure HHH.

In addition, the money saved by the reduction of the prison population can be used for prevention and mental health treatments. Additionally, the commission would have the citation power to conduct investigations of existing personnel, as well as witness assistance and the production of books and documents relevant to investigations and supervision in case of questionable situations.

Camarillo said that this is the right direction towards rehabilitation aid and less penitentiary recidivism.

"Remember that Los Angeles County always sees what are the best ways to find solutions," said Camarillo. "If we take the best media, they will help several programs."

According to the latest figures from the sheriff's department, 80% of those in jail identify themselves as people of color and 39% of the total are Latino women.

In recent years, Latinas have been the group that has had the highest arrest rates in California, according to a report by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI). In 2017, Hispanic women were the group that increased in arrests for serious crimes.

Mexican federations support the measure

Francisco Moreno, spokesman for the Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM), said that the 11 federations of COFEM and other allied organizations support Measure R because this will represent greater monitoring for those in jail.

"A large number of people are for minor reasons or racism issues and we want there to be fair monitoring," said Moreno. "We want to know who they are, because they are there and what is the sentence they are purging."

The spokesman said there is a disparity especially when there are prisoners who have committed serious crimes mixed with immigrants who ended up there for, perhaps, missing a court date or any other minimum crime.

"And many times as immigrants cannot pay their bail they have them imprisoned indefinitely," Moreno said.

Additionally, Moreno said that, for the first time, with the help of Measure R, the prison system can meet the objective of "rehabilitating people" who committed a crime and not just having them locked up.

“Because now the rehabilitation in the centers is null. Some people come and go worse than they were. We want there to be a case-by-case monitoring, ”added the activist.

Measure R has as its main objective to improve the probability that people will reintegrate into society in a successful way.

Moreno said that they continue to inform themselves in order to provide adequate information to their members and the community in general.

Camarillo said that in order to achieve this goal it is important that voters go to the polls on March 3 to show their support.

To register to vote and learn about the new electronic voting system visit: https://www.lavote.net/es/p%C3%A1gina-de-inicio


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