Los Angeles Organization Holds Summit and Day Party for Mental Health and the Incarcerated

Patrisse Cullors moderates a panel of DA candidates. 
November 18, 2019

On Saturday, November 9, organizers, activists, celebrities, and community members gathered on the lawn of A Noise Within Theatre in Pasadena for the first-ever Reform LA Jails Summit and Day Party for Mental Health. 


The event included panels on the connections between mental health and incarceration. Reform LA Jails is a coalition of jail and prison experts, criminal justice reform activists, and community members looking to pass the Reform Jails Reinvestment Initiative. The event was designed to be community-centered and included a taco truck, bounce house, art installation, and DJ.  


With a clear focus on combining collective joy with hard, important conversations, founder of Reform LA Jails and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors described, “It’s really important that as an audience, as you’re listening to each of the panelists and hanging out and eating, that you’re continuing this conversation. The only way that we are able to change the conditions here in Los Angeles County and the rest of the world is to have a talk about it.” 


According to Reform LA Jails, there are currently 5,000 people incarcerated due to mental health issues in Los Angeles.  In LA, first responders to a mental health crisis are police, which has resulted in increased incarceration, violence, and systemized oppression towards those with serious mental health issues. Reform LA Jails is clear to state that this issue affects race and socioeconomic status disproportionately as well. “We’re all coming together with the clarity that caging human beings [and] using police to be the first responders to mental health is a disaster. It doesn’t work,” said Cullors about the summit.


The event began with a panel of four candidates for District Attorney of Los Angeles. Reform LA Jails has been protesting the current District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, for over 100 weeks. The organization officially stated, “Since taking office in 2013, LA County police and sheriffs have killed over 575 people, and she is yet to prosecute one officer.” 


Each of the four candidates is in active support of Reform LA Jails and their new ballot initiative. 


This ballot initiative, which will be voted on on March 3, 2020, is hoping to force LA County into investing in rehabilitation and mental health treatment, conducting an in-depth population study on who is in LA jails, and finally, significantly reducing the jail population. 


The night included passionate words from actors Yara Shahidi, Zuri Adele, and Kendrick Sampson speaking about their position, their communities, and how mental health and incarceration have affected them. The audience also heard from community members that previously were in prison and two parents, Juan Correra and Helen Jones-Phillips, whose children were killed while in jail. 


It was a community event focused on healing, accountability for Los Angeles, and joy. The night was finished with a performance from Los Angeles-based rapper Boogie as the crowd enthusiastically sang and danced to his hit song “Silent Ride.”  


One of Westridge’s own, N’Dea P. ’20, was in the crowd. “It was informative to listen to community leaders and organizers discuss the ongoing crisis in Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system, and empowering and inspiring to hear their ideas for remedying these problems. As new voters in 2020, it is important that we research and seek out information about upcoming initiatives such as the Reform LA Jails ballot measure so that we can make informed decisions casting our votes,” she commented.

As a part of the art installation, people answered questions about the criminal justice system.
A portrait of Michelle Infante, one of the panelists and an ex-convict.