Thank you to SJPC's 2023 Sac State intern, Josh Harrop, for all his hard work on this piece!
During the 2/7/23 Board of Supervisors meeting, a resolution was pulled off of the consent calendar for discussion regarding a contract with the company Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA).
According to the item's agenda doc, this resolution would:
[authorize] the Sheriff, or his designee, to execute an agreement with Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc. (LCA) in the amount of $3,220,200 for inmate reentry services for the period of March 1, 2023, through June 30, 2026
Description of LCA pictured below - screenshot taken from their website
What is the background/context for this item?
This agenda item was brought forward under the guise of the County trying to comply with the Mays v. County of Sacramento Consent Decree (read more about the Consent Decree in ths CapRadio article). The contract with LCA supposedly addresses the “reentry” portion of the Consent Decree - or as Eric Jones put it, the “Intercept 5 Model piece” of the decree. Basically he's saying these services will reduce the jail population by reducing the amount of people who are incarcerated again after release (allegedly). Though this resolution seems to have potentially beneficial outcomes for those seeking reentry within Sacramento County, the selected company (LCA) has a history of extorting and mistreating low-income individuals.
The resolution was allegedly designed to follow the Mays v. County of Sacramento Consent Decree, according to Eric Jones, Deputy County Executive - but this description is far removed from the insidious nature of this bill. If we look closer at the nature of this contract and LCA, this is actually a “reentry” resolution, not a comprehensive decarceration resolution - and so right off the bat it comes up short in regard to the changes necessary to the Sac County jail system.
In fact, not only is this resolution limited in scope at best, it is also being made with a predatory company previously involved with a class-action lawsuit in 2018 “for extorting money from poor Californians,” as Decarcerate Sacramento referenced in their letter to the BOS within the Agenda Packet. LCA is a group not only disinterested in decarceration, it actively preys upon low-income individuals and forces them to pay high fee rates, as opposed to having them set by judges. This blatant long-term extortion has led to much pain on behalf of low-income individuals, who are misled to believe programs run by the LCA are to their benefit.
Eric Jones made note of these complaints and this history with the LCA, however he brushed them off as merely “dismissed” claims that would not have any interference with this resolution - he reduced these well-placed concerns as simply “some sort of litigation,” discounting the wrongs that LCA has committed against the lives of low-income individuals. The evidence of the harmful nature of this resolution was clearly downplayed when it was pulled for discussion, though a note was made that staff from the Sac Sheriff's Office would be available to make comment later on in the meeting regarding these types of concerns. Eric Jones also answered, in response to Supervisor Kennedy, that he has not reached out to LCA for their direct comment on these concerns. Therefore, there is no way to verify any of Eric Jones’ claims that these lawsuits and damages caused by LCA are minimal or have been dismissed.
He ignores the big picture (LCA being an unethical corporation) and chooses to talk his way around the concerns by insisting that this LCA service contract is nothing like the one that resulted in a lawsuit - see video below.
Was there a vote?
Despite the obvious problems involved in working with LCA to execute these "reentry services," the BOS unanimously voted yes - mirroring the ignorance displayed in the description of the resolution on behalf of Eric Jones. The Board declined to have SSO staff provide comment on the concerns brought regarding this resolution, further displaying just how little they cared to delve into it. This unanimous vote was cast with little consideration for the letter from Decarcerate Sacramento which detailed the problems that lie ahead in partnering with LCA for this reentry resolution.
Did anything relating to budgets occur during this meeting?
Not much was discussed about the budgetary nature of this resolution, however Eric Jones commented that the money for the resolution would mostly be sourced through AB 109 funding.
Why is this important for social justice? Are there important next steps on this issue? What should SJPC readers do?
The unanimous vote in favor of this resolution poses problems not only for the fight for decarceration within Sacramento County, but also for the people this resolution targets. As we saw in the cases outlined in Decarcerate Sacramento's letter, LCA as an organization cannot be trusted with the reentry services offered to individuals exiting the prison system. Not only is the scope of this resolution extremely limited for what we need in Sacramento County, it also has the direct capacity to inflict harm upon individuals who rightfully deserve comprehensive paths out of jail and comfortable reintegration. Despite being explicitly warned, the BOS approved this resolution in spite of the glaring problems that lie within the contract is authorizes.
If the BOS had recognized the unacceptable nature of contracting with LCA, they could have put their vote towards working with alternative reentry programs, instead of relegating this task to a company with a track record of exploitation
Our Sacramento County community should be wary of the way this is being implemented. If Supervisors continue to ignore the potential fallout of this resolution, we need to continue to hold them accountable. This might look like fellow SJPC members bringing this up at future BOS meetings, or even perhaps further mobilization to get the BOS to reconsider their votes on the matter.