Convert Prisons to Homeless Shelters?

By | Feb 17, 2015

Lecumberri_Prison_CellYears ago, I was part of a small group of leaders who toured the notorious Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail, which was home to 19,000 inmates last year.

The facility was less of a place for personal reform and more of a place for punishment. The barred spaces looked like cages—where inmates were stuffed in, three cots high—like animals. Broken pipes, filth, and dilapidated furniture seemed more consistent with the type of incarceration that one would witness in a developing country.

On that tour, the Sheriff shared an insightful statement with our group: “This jail is the largest mental ill facility in the country.”

Flash-forward to 2015 and this statement still holds a great deal of truth. On any given night, the L.A. Men’s Central Jail houses 3,000 people struggling with severe mental illness.  Many, if not all, of these incarcerated men with mental illnesses are homeless. To a certain extent, this jail is an unintended facility for homeless people.

In contrast to these images of overcrowding, some states are witnessing rapid reductions in their prison populations. Former Attorney General Eric Holder projected a decline of 12,000 federal inmates in the next two years. In response to this decline, some states have decided to convert their prisons to homeless shelters.

That is a lot of empty beds. It makes sense to convert these buildings into something useful for society. Like a homeless shelter. Read More »

Homeless Counts: Just Like Counting Sheep?

By | Feb 9, 2015 | Comments Off

Four years after my homeless count blog post, sadly, we are still counting individuals and families living out on the streets that have fallen through the cracks of society.

By | Jan 26, 2015
Income inequality is all the talk.
By | Jan 20, 2015
In the United States, the gap between those holding the most wealth and the extremely poor is an issue that is quickly coming to the forefront of the political scene.
By | Jan 12, 2015
I am homeless.
By | Jan 5, 2015
It’s cold.
By | Dec 29, 2014
Looking back at 2014 many images of unrest and tragedy around the world come to mind—downed airplanes, violent acts by an extremist group in the Middle East, brave men and women in space suits fighting a deadly disease in Africa and beyond, as well as protests across American towns and cities.
By | Dec 22, 2014
If you were to ask the mayor of Mayberry, North Carolina if his town has homelessness and hunger, I’m sure his answer would be accurate.