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Million Dollar Hoods: Mapping the Fiscal and Human Cost of Mass Incarceration in Los Angeles

May 14, 20194:00 pm6:00 pm

In-Custody Defendant in Court

Los Angeles County operates the largest jail system in the United States, which incarcerates more people than any other nation on Earth. At a cost of nearly $1 billion annually, more than 20,000 people are caged every night in L.A.’s county jails and city lockups. But not every neighborhood is equally impacted by L.A.’s massive jail system. In fact, L.A.’s nearly billion-dollar jail budget is largely committed to incarcerating many people from just a few neighborhoods. In some communities, more than one-million dollars is spent annually on incarceration. These are L.A.’s Million Dollar Hoods.

Led by Prof. Kelly Lytle Hernandez, the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) research team maps and monitors how much local authorities spend on locking up residents in L.A.’s Million Dollar Hoods. Led by Black and Brown women and driven by formerly-incarcerated persons as well as residents of Million Dollar Hoods, the MDH team also provides the only full and public account of the leading causes of arrest in Los Angeles, revealing that drug possession and DUIs are the top booking charges in L.A.’s Million Dollar Hoods. Collectively, this data counters the popular misunderstanding that incarceration advances public safety by removing violent and serious offenders from the streets. In fact, local authorities are investing millions in locking up the County’s most economically vulnerable, geographically isolated, and racially marginalized populations for drug and alcohol-related crimes. This talk provides an introduction to the Million Dollar Hoods project, method, and impact.


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About the Speaker

 Kelly Lytle Hernández is Professor of History and African American Studies, and Interim Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. Currently, Professor Lytle Hernández is the Principal Investigator for Million Dollar Hoods, a university-based, community-drive research project that maps the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. The Million Dollar Hoods team won a 2018 Freedom Now ! Award from the Los Angeles Community Action Network. For her leadership on the Million Dollar Hoods team, Professor Lytle Hernández was awarded the 2018 KCET Local Hero Award.

One of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration, she is the author of the award-winning books, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol(University of California Press, 2010), and City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).


This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.