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In Pursuit of Regional Responsibility

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2005, at 04:16PM

Short article showed up on the LA Times site this afternoon talking about a proposal to help clean up Skid Row by transporting released prisoners back to their original municipality.

City and state officials today unveiled a sweeping new effort to improve downtown Los Angeles' skid row and prevent the "dumping" of criminals and homeless people in the area.

Legislators lead by State Sen. Gil Cedillo and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez proposed legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to bring inmates released from county jails back to the community where they were arrested.

I think this is one very important step toward separating the true problem of homelessness from the other elements that find their way onto Skid Row. Downtown Los Angeles has a heavy concentration of jail and prison facilities. There is no reason why this geographic happenstance should lead to all released inmates emerging onto the streets of Downtown, often with nowhere to go.

A different article on NBC4's site speaks of other plans to crack down on Skid Row. Here again the important thing to note is that these are measures aimed at freeing Skid Row from the criminality and drug sales that make life harder for the homeless and those who would help them.

Update (midnight): A longer piece on the same topic is in today's paper.

Update (Thursday): There's a follow-up piece in today's paper that says the other cities may not be as big on the plan. I laughed when I read this:

Some said the plan would cause problems because suburbs don't have the resources -- such as drug treatment programs and cheap rents -- to deal with the influx.

Downtown may have service providers, but I sure can't find that cheap rent we've supposedly got.

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