Giving Compass' Take:
- Adam Mahoney discusses the proximity of some of the largest prisons and jails in the U.S. to environmental hazards and the dire consequences for those incarcerated.
- How can we ensure that we are taking an intersectional approach to issues of environmental justice? How can donors best address these connected issues?
- Read more about environmental justice as an intersectional issue.
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For more than half a century, 441 Bauchet Street has been the address where Los Angeles’ most stark social and environmental inequalities converge. It’s the location of L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail, the largest facility in the most populated county jail system in the country. On any given day, about 5,000 people are incarcerated there.
A block south from the jail is the 101 freeway, one of the most traveled highways in America, which generates dangerous levels of air pollution linked to a slew of birth defects. A block east is the L.A. River, home to at least 20 different pollutants, from feces to oil, at levels that violate federal standards. Another 100 yards east is the SP Railyard and Union Pacific Transportation Center, which operate at all hours, receiving big rig diesel trucks that spew an estimated 40 tons of particulate matter into the air annually.
Men’s Central’s proximity to extreme toxicity isn’t an anomaly. A Grist analysis of the 11 jails in the three biggest county jail systems in America — Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago — found that people residing within or surrounding eight of these facilities are in the 90th percentile or higher for pollution-related cancer risk, respiratory hazards, and diesel pollution exposure. Nine of the facilities are located closer to toxic wastewater than at least 97 percent of the country, and all 11 are in the 90th percentile or higher for proximity to hazardous waste.
Read the full article about incarceration and environmental justice by Adam Mahoney at Grist.