Moral Budget: Spending Cash On Community Instead Of Jail
Los Angeles County’s Measure J is a dope idea, and everybody should study it
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can happen in a flash. Your life can be taken by a callous police officer on a summer day; protests can erupt in response to a state killing captured on video; the world you live in can suddenly flip due to mandatory shelter-in-place orders that isolate you from those you love the most. But 2020 also taught us that race-related innovation is possible. Los Angeles County’s Measure J is that innovation.
Measure J, or the Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration Charter Amendment, is the best kind of legal looting. It’s a cornering and voter-forced reallocation of at least 10% of the billions collected annually by the county; a move that shifts money to community care instead of jail maintenance. Los Angeles County voters approved this measure in response to a racial pandemic at least 400 years in the making that was punctuated this year by George Floyd’s killing and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black (and Brown) bodies.
The measure amends L.A. County’s charter so that a minimum of 10% of unrestricted funds of the annual revenue — an amount estimated to be between $360 million and $900 million — is earmarked to fund community programs and alternatives to incarceration, including health services, mental health services, and youth and job development programs.
Measure J, or the Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration Charter Amendment, is the best kind of legal looting. It’s the pillage of the county’s coffers — of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Measure J also prohibits the designated funding from being used to finance anything related to policing or incarceration.
“This is a mandate, a statement of our values now and forever,” says Isaac Bryan, who co-chaired the campaign for Measure J. Bryan, who serves as the executive director of the UCLA Black Policy Project, hopes the measure diverts LA County’s $280,000 per person, per year jail…