Women jailed at Century Regional Detention Center should have a chance to learn skills for jobs in technology, building trades, culinary arts and other growth industries, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl championed the plan to create a comprehensive jobs training program at the women's jail in Lynwood, saying women face special obstacles to employment after serving their sentences.
"Women often need to overcome an extra set of barriers because they may lack employable skills and may also be the primary caretakers of their children," Kuehl said. "We can't expect people to rebuild their lives if they're not given a fair shot at a steady good-paying job."
Research shows that women, particularly those with children, are often under- or unemployed, work fewer hours and make less per hour than their male counterparts, and often work in temporary, low-level or entry-level jobs with little chance for advancement.
In addition to skills training at the Century job center, job placement services are anticipated.
Abbe Land, director of the county's Women and Girls Initiative, said the programs should be tailored for women.
"Despite the fact that there's been a dramatic rise in incarcerated women around the country, prison and jail programs often overlook women's unique needs. I'm very happy to see the county address this critical factor in reducing the number of women who cycle in and out of jail because they have not been able to secure steady employment after they've been released."
Pitchess Detention Center has opened a jails-based job center for men and Kuehl's motion calls for a longer-term plan to create another jobs center at Mira Loma Detention Center, a women's facility which has not yet been renovated or opened to inmates.
Mira Loma is moving forward in the face of strong opposition from community organizations who object to the fact that it is roughly 70 miles from downtown Los Angeles and hard for inmates' families to visit, and also oppose any new jail construction that could serve to increase the number of people behind bars.