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LA Jail Reform Contract With Biometrics Giant Raises Concerns

In November of 2020,  voters in Los Angeles passed a measure that would amend the LA County charter so that jailing people before trial would be treated as a last resort, and ten percent of the county’s general fund would be allocated to community-led alternatives to incarceration that prioritized diversion, job training, and health programs. But now, some civil rights groups are raising concerns that the money is instead being diverted back to law enforcement, The Intercept reports. In June, LA County signed over the handling of changes to pretrial detention under Measure J to the consulting firm Accenture, a behemoth in the world of biometric databases and predictive policing. Civil Rights Corps, a nonprofit legal organization, wrote a letter to the County Board of Commissioners calling on them to cancel the contract, arguing that it strays from their stated mission.  “Already, Accenture has concluded that electronic monitoring is a ‘favorable alternative’ to incarceration, ignoring the reality that electronic monitoring is expensive, unsupported by social science, and demonstrably racially biased as applied in Los Angeles,” the letter adds. “This is unsurprising: the consultants working on the Contract have deep ties to police departments and prisons.”

The Los Angeles Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department, which is administering the contract, defended it. “Accenture is a large, international consulting firm with many lines of business,” spokesperson Avi Bernard said. “The specific consultants assigned to this project are part of a team in Accenture dedicated to the public sector. Their team comes from a variety of backgrounds, primarily in the health and human services industry.”  But several LA-based advocates told The Intercept that the contract is yet another development that calls into question the county’s commitment to real criminal justice reform. “I’m genuinely confused about how we ended up with this Accenture contract, especially as someone who participated in the development of the Care First, Jails Last (ATI) report,” said Danielle Dupuy-Watson, CEO of CRC, referring to an “Alternatives to Incarceration” working group commissioned by the county. “We hoped for transparency and accountability but instead we were gaslit.”


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