LARRP is excited to provide an update on the work with the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH), and how it’s expanding.
We all know that the justice-involved population has some of the most complex health and social needs of any given demographic group. In order to have the greatest impact on this vulnerable community, the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP) has been very intentional about incorporating their voices into the process of the change we seek to improve the quality, scope and coordination of services for our returning citizens.
Over the past year, LARRP has partnered with CCJBH to create our LEADERS Academy, which immerses a cohort of twelve men and women in a year-long process of using their voices and platform to create the change they seek.
In addition to establishing our LEADERS Academy, we have been working closely with CCJBH to establish a focus group of formerly incarcerated individuals in order to give feedback about the development of the initial draft of the “SB 369 Barriers Table.” LARRP has been essential in ensuring our voice is heard, both by being part of the CCJBH Lived Experience Program Advisory Group and increasing stakeholder engagement opportunities.
During the past year, LARRP, along with many other justice advocates across the state, worked to pass SB 369. SB 369 would have established the California Reentry Commission, which would have been tasked with developing a new health and safety agenda for those returning home from custody, reviewing the barriers to reentry, and coordinating with other entities to establish a grant program for reentry service providers. SB 369 passed both the Assembly and the Senate in the 2019 Legislative Session but was vetoed by the Governor. Per the Governor Newsom's veto message, he directed CCJBH to instead perform this reentry coordination task.
For individuals reentering the community after incarceration, obstacles include a lack of health care, job skills, education, stable housing and disconnection from community-based services. CBOs and FBOs are the first to provide services to returning citizens and are well acquainted with helping them to face many obstacles, as they transition out of incarceration and return to communities.
The importance of involving community members with lived experience when making decisions that impact the community at large is becoming increasingly recognized. We have found that both government agencies and policy makers are often disconnected from their communities despite their good intentions. Thus we have to come together and use our collective voices to help them fully understand the barriers that exist for people who are re-entering the community. These barriers can vary by community, so giving people who are from different backgrounds and regions a seat at the table is of the utmost importance. There is something empowering and therapeutic in having a directly impacted person provide their expertise and perspective on what people in reentry need. Trust is built when there are people with lived experience and their families participate in decision-making.
Cal Voices, LARRP, and CCJBH would like to hear from individuals with lived experience of re-entry and from their supporters about the common difficulties they face pre and post-release, and their ideas on how to address these issues using strategies that leverage effective approaches used across correctional and behavioral health settings.