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Measure J upheld to provide community investment funds


Alternatives to incarceration

Community groups this week celebrated a court ruling upholding Measure J, a ballot measure mandating that 10% of Los Angeles County's unrestricted, locally generated funds be allocated to community investments and alternatives to incarceration.

The Re-Imagine LA Coalition, including more than 100 organizations, held a news conference Monday morning to reflect on the significance of the court's ruling, and to urge county supervisors to fully fund Measure J and enact a “care first budget.''

On July 28, the California Court of Appeal upheld Measure J, which was approved by 57% of LA County voters in 2020.

“Now that it's permanent, we need all the money,'' said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez, who co-chaired the Re-Imagine L.A. County campaign. “We've only gotten a fraction of what Measure J is supposed to be giving to the community. It's supposed to be close to a billion dollars.''

She further stated that Measure J came out from a collaboration with families “most directly impacted by the carceral system, the loved ones, who put it together.''

Baba Akili, a member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, recognized the efforts to get the measure on the ballot and approved by voters. He added that “the fight continues.''

“No more hesitation. No more stalling. No more,'' Akili said. “Do it now. It is good to stand in the light of day and the success of hard working people.''

L.A. County officials estimated between $360 million and $900 million will be spent on social services, including housing, mental health treatment and alternatives to incarceration through Measure J.

The Coalition of County Unions, which includes the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, filed a lawsuit against the county, arguing Measure J would lead to funding cuts that would harm public safety and cause crime rates to rise.

In June 2021, a judge ruled in favor of the unions to overturn the measure, citing the measure limited how the Board of Supervisors could decide revenue allocations.

The recent court of appeal ruling found the state's constitution allows counties to implement budget strategies into their charters.

“We're obviously disappointed with the ruling and will conduct a complete evaluation with our legal team,'' Richard Pippin, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing the LA County Sheriff's Department deputies. “With unprecedented staffing shortages, the upcoming Olympics, and increasing crime, there couldn't be worse time to cut deputies.''

In the years Measure J remained in legal proceedings, the Board of Supervisors moved forward to create the Care First Community Investment fund and allocated approximately $400 million to Measure J related programs and services.

Janice Hahn, chair of the Board of Supervisors, said in a statement that ``the voters of L.A. County made it clear they want us to spend more money keeping people out of jail, and this appeals court has upheld their wishes.''