As the year, and the decade, come to a close, I reflect on how far we have come. I encourage us all to keep the momentum going for the criminal justice reform successes we have collectively secured across our nation.

LA County, our home, our place of service, the defacto 7th largest state, and home to the largest jail in the world, has finally begun to embrace true systemic reforms to the County’s criminal legal systems. Whether it was the extensive Probation Department reform process, the stopping of LA County jail expansion, building a roadmap for Alternatives to Incarceration, or the critical District Attorney election, the principles of reform and the commitment to de-carceration and community restoration are taking hold in LA County.

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And, twelve months ago, Congress passed the FIRST STEP Act, signaling the arrival of bipartisan criminal justice reform at the federal level. The passage of the FIRST STEP Act marked a critical milestone in our journey toward a more fair and effective criminal justice system. Let’s maintain our bipartisan momentum — the future of our criminal justice system and our democracy depends on it. The question for Washington now is: What’s next?

The answer from the community, both individuals and organizations across the political spectrum must be we want justice, fairness, equality, and second chances for all returning citizens. The Country’s high incarceration and recidivism rates take a toll on families and communities, so the need to balance personal responsibility with forgiveness and rehabilitation must be the clarion call of the day.  Only by seeking collective and bold solutions to our common problems will we increase public safety, save taxpayer dollars and restore the lives of everyone affected by the criminal justice system.

Some of the success that came from our LARRP community in 2019:
  • Expanding LARRP’s network to now over 700 members.
  • Hosting over a dozen free record change clinics, serving over 500 people.
  • Conducting capacity building workshops that led to several new organizations forming and receiving contracts.
  • Receiving 2 grants under the California Community Reinvestment Grants (Prop 64)
  • Hiring key employees including a long-time reentry leader Joe Paul Jr. and other new LARRP staff.
  • Launched two new committees: Education and Integrated Health.
  • Co-convening nearly 1,000 Angelenos in Montebello in May for LA’s first ever reentry conference: the “Shaking up Reentry: A Collaborative Approach to Reentry in LA County.”
  • Collaborating with LA County 211 to launch an active database of reentry providers and resources throughout LA County
And we must now put our hands to the plow, we cannot afford to look back. We “MUST” keep the momentum going.
We know that 97 percent of incarcerated people will eventually come home. We have all taken steps that can increase the odds that people who return to our communities come back as contributing members of society, working in stable jobs and reconnected with their families. They however cannot do it without us. We must fight on, and we must win.
We here at LARRP thank each and every one of you for the contribution you have made and do make every day to ensure those coming home, have a home and community to come to.

Thank you, and we look forward to continuing our work together in 2020 – “All of us, or none of us.”