Natalie Portman & Patrisse Cullors Appear On KTLA To Talk About “Yes on R” Ballot Measure 2020
By: Rebecca Brando and Kassandra Escamilla, March 3, 2020
“Yes on R” supports accountability, transparency, and fairness brought back to L.A.’s criminal justice system.”
"Super Tuesday" is a big day at the polls for California voters to say "Yes" to ballot Measure R, an initiative to Reform L.A. Jails and demand transparency and accountability for the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. Last week, Academy Award-winning actress, Natalie Portman joined the KTLA morning news team with Patrisse Cullors, Founder of “Yes on R” on Friday (Feb 28) to discuss the importance of the new ballot measure to reform the LA County Jail System. Portman is one of many celebrity advocates in support of “Yes on R” such as, America Ferrera, Sterling K. Brown, John Legend, Olivia Wilde, and Presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, just to name a few.
Measure R was crafted by Patrisse Cullors, one of the three founding women of the Black Lives Matter movement along with many community advocates and activists who organized in response to the jail beatings and police corruption. "Yes on R" (formerly known as Reform LA Jails) comes from a decade long movement of people who have been trying to fight for jail reform and sheriff accountability. In 2019, the “Yes on R” movement collected over a quarter million signatures to put Measure R on the ballot. The organization has already successfully stopped 2 jails from being built in LA County at the cost of $3.5 million dollars. Funding for the new measure would come from money that would have gone to the construction of new jails.
“Yes on R” aims to end mass incarceration by reducing the jail population and providing alternatives to incarceration. Los Angeles County Jail houses an average of 5,500 individuals with mental illness, 60% of whom can be safely diverted into healthcare programs. The measure will increase access to mental health care and drug treatment services for those individuals who need it most.
The measure will also bring oversight and transparency to the LA County Sheriff Department via the Sheriff’s Department Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) with subpoena power to effectively and independently investigate misconduct and corruption within the department.
In the interview Portman drops a major truth bombs about her visit to the Lynwood County Jail, “After having visited many jails and prisons, myself in this city which has the largest incarcerated population in the world, right here in LA County.” She continued “I was shocked by the way the mentally ill in particular are treated, it was not how I want my local government to be treating our citizens, and it’s not the best thing for our city, of course if you’re working towards rehabilitation and helping people, you are building a safer healthier environment for everybody.”
Portman goes on to explain “it was shocking when I was there and something I was surprised about was the people that work were saying we don’t have the resources or the training to help these people. We are not professionals for mental health care and a third of the population is mentally ill and they end up handcuffed to tables or kept in cage-like cells without access to natural light outdoors and you realize it’s not anything that’s going to help anyone get better.” She continues “And then when those people are released how’s that helping our general population, our general safety and certainly for their wellness... no person witnessing it feels that’s ok and mainly its allowed to sustain because it’s out of sight for us.”
Cullors organization works with families every single day where their family members end up in jail because of mental illness and cannot get the mental health treatment they need. Cullor goes on to say in the interview the reality is that there are not enough beds.
“What we are doing are supporting the people who are the most vulnerable. The people who did not ask for mental illness, did not ask for homelessness or drug addiction. People like that, those are our family members, our loved ones, they deserve care, and that’s what we are asking for.” said Cullors.