LARRP's March General Meeting
LARRP’s March General Meeting was rocking and packed!
It kicked off with a moving personal impact story by Riley Gude, brother of LARRP co-founder Lynne Lyman. Riley is a participant in the CSH Speak Up! Program, and this was his first time sharing his story publicly. Riley made jokes and talked about his life long addiction, years of homelessness, and cycling in and out of jail, rehabs, and mental hospitals. Through the housing first approach programs of DHS/ODR, Riley is now over 15 months sober and living in his own PSH unit in South LA.
A representative from the federal Public Defender’s Office, Hilary Potashner, joined LARRP to talk about the recently passed First Step Act, a new federal law that makes the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. That was the law that reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. Now all those who were sentenced to a hard crack term before 2010 will be eligible for release. The First Step Act also eliminates non-violent drug offenses as “priors” under federal 3 strikes law and increases good time credits, among other reforms. Any on with questions or related needs should call the Federal Public Defender Central District at 213-894-2854, where a live lawyer on duty will take questions. LARRP welcomes all returning citizens from federal prison with open arms and free membership!
A powerful presentation on the LA jail expansion fight was given by young leaders from the Reform LA Jails Coalition. Lex Steppling of Dignity and Power Now, Ivette Ales of CURB, and Eunisses Hernandez of Just Leadership USA spoke to LARRP members about how the vote for a new Mental Health Hospital (instead of the CCTF) means we now have to turn our attention to pushing for a decentralized and community based mental health care network. Eunisses invited members to join the Alternative to Incarceration Working Group that the County has established. Many questions remain, like if this is mental health hospital, why are jailers going to run it instead of public health officials, and if it stays under Corrections then it wouldn’t be eligible to use any Medicare/ACA funding. Questions also arose, and remain unanswered, around what happens next for the women in Lynwood jail now that Mira Loma is dead?
And as always, LARRP’s fearless leader, Rev. Troy Vaughn, inspired the room with his calls for us all to do MORE, and especially to do more TOGETHER. Only as a collective voice, can we truly advance a progressive agenda and robust funding for the reentry community.