Sybil Brand, philanthropist and civic leader, was the recipient of over 2,000 awards, commendations, and resolutions in recognition of her generosity and lifetime commitment on behalf of the people of Los Angeles County.
In 1948, Sybil Brand accepted an appointment to the Public Welfare Commission. Later, when no one on the Commission wanted to serve on the Jail Committee, Sybil Brand volunteered.
While serving in this capacity, Sybil Brand saw the necessity to improve the overcrowded conditions of incarcerated juveniles, men, and in particular women. Sybil visited the women inmates who were housed on the 13th floor of the men’s jail in the old Hall of Justice and was appalled that more than 1,800 women were crammed into facilities designed for 1,200. It was then that Sybil began to look for space in new buildings or to convert usable space in existing buildings as potential sites for housing women inmates. When a suitable facility could not be found, Sybil campaigned and was instrumental in the passage of a bond measure which provided funds not only for a women’s facility, but also for a new men’s jail and several honor camps. In 1963, the Sybil Brand Institute for Women was opened and renamed in her honor at the dedication ceremony for the facility.
The title of the Commission was officially changed when Sybil was honored by the Board of Supervisors on her 90th birthday and 50th year working for the people of the County. Sybil served as Chairman of the Commission until her recent death on February 17th, 2004. She was believed to be 104.
Charitable programs very dear to Mrs. Brand’s heart include “Babies With AIDS”, the “Teddy Bear Program” for children who have to face the ordeal of going to dependency court hearings, and the Jeffrey Foundation.
In 1994, the Sybil Brand Institute for Women was severely damaged during the Northridge Earthquake. Since that time, women inmates are being housed in Twin Tower Two of the new Twin Towers Facility in Downtown Los Angeles until the plan to reopen the Sybil Brand Institute for Women is realized.