July 6 2020

PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT’S PRESIDENT & CEO ROBERT K. ROSS, MD, ABOUT THE “CARE FIRST BUDGET”

Robert K. Ross, MD, president & CEO of The California Endowment, and Chair of the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Work Group for Los Angeles County, today expressed strong support for the “Care First Budget” crafted by the advocacy group Justice LA.

The Care First Budget has been submitted for consideration as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors enters decision-making for the annual $34.9 billion budget.

“The racial inequalities unmasked by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the recent national events of racial injustice at the hands of law enforcement, remind us of the decades-long criminalization of black and brown people who need care as the first option, and jail as the last resort,” said Dr. Ross.  “The Justice LA-proposed budget offers a framework for re-imagining our justice system in LA – and in a manner that directly confronts structural racism.”

The Justice LA budget highlights four themes for budgetary action by the County Board of Supervisors: 1) Continued reduction of the jail population; 2) Continued decriminalization and de-carceration of juveniles; 3) Capturing the cost savings from the reductions in jail population; and 4) Increase in investments to implement the recommendations of the ATI Work Group, which offers a vision for a “care first, jails last” system of care and services.

“The County Board of Supervisors has provided sound leadership in recent years to begin reimagining a system rife with racial injustice.  Divesting dollars from criminalization, punishment, and law enforcement-centered strategies and into prevention and care through budgetary action is the next step on the road to meaningful, transformative change,” added Dr. Ross.

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. Learn more at www.calendow.org.

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