More incarceration is not the solution to a failing social safety net. But on May 5, Orange County supervisors unanimously approved a construction agreement to expand the James A. Musick Facility in Irvine and build 896 new jail beds.
Sheriff Barnes claims that these new beds are for “mental health.” But mental health issues cannot be addressed when a person is inside of a cage. Instead, the expansion of Musick will encourage OCSD to continue to overpolice, criminalize, and incarcerate communities of color and poor people. As Jose Armendariz points out in his op-ed from OC jails, a bigger jail will encourage the Sheriff to continue to criminalize people with unmet mental health and substance use needs and people who are unhoused. If the county builds a bigger jail, Sheriff Barnes will fill it.
Expanding the jail is especially unnecessary when the jail population is at a historic low. The expansion would increase OC jails’ rated capacity to roughly 6,200 when the average daily population is down to 2,800. More than half of the people inside have not been convicted of the charges they are facing, but they remain inside because they can’t afford bail.
While communities across the country are demanding defunding police and the carceral state, OC supervisors continue to waste taxpayer dollars on incarceration. Spending $350 million to expand an empty jail is wrong, especially when we need those dollars to fund community-based healthcare, mental health support and affordable housing.
Join us in urging OC supervisors to end the construction of a bigger jail and to instead put community first.
#DefundOCSD #StopTheMusick #BuildCommunityNotMusick