LAPD's New $74 Million Jail Left Vacant
June 21, 2010
LOS ANGELES — A massive Los Angeles jail that cost $74 million to build has remained vacant because the cash-strapped city can’t hire enough jailers to staff it.
The Los Angeles Police Department has little choice but to leave the facility idle because the city’s budget crisis has meant a hiring freeze, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The new 172,000-square-foot jail is labor-intensive to operate. Under one plan, the city would need to hire 44 new jailers to open the facility.
The new Metropolitan Detention Center boasts top-of-the-line technology, with automated security doors and electronic fingerprinting stations. To cut down on overcrowding, the jail is divided into secure wings. The 500-bed facility has central air conditioning and skylights that flood the wings with sunlight.
The jail was built with funds from a measure approved by taxpayers in 2002, granting $600 million for improvements to police buildings.
The LAPD currently operates 10 jails for the roughly 120,000 people arrested and booked into custody every year in Los Angeles. Seven of the jails consist of a few cells inside police stations, and three are larger regional facilities in the San Fernando Valley, South Los Angeles and downtown.
The old central jail downtown opened 60 years ago, and years of overcrowding have left it in dingy despair. Surveillance monitors are broken, and those that do work show feeds from cameras observing limited portions of the Advertisement jail. The jail was built to house 151 beds, but currently holds 440, and tends to fill up on weekends.
Without central air, temperatures inside the dimly lit jail soar in the cells during the summer.
“You don’t want to come through here in summertime,” Capt. Clay Farrell, who oversees the LAPD’s jail division, told the Los Angeles Times.