4th of July Community Safety Committee Blog

By Pastor Joe Paul, LARRP Vice President of Network Partnerships & Government Relations

Last week, I was in a Chicago-based training where clergy learned how to better organize our community around community-based violence. During the same week, President Biden signed a gun bill package that will give more financial resources to typically underfunded organizations and programs that directly work with those most vulnerable to community-based violence.

LARRP’s work has always been focused on amplifying the voices of those directly and indirectly devastated by mass incarceration. The increasing gun violence and homicides in Los Angeles, and in many major cities across America, is calling on us to probe more deeply into the drivers and roots of community violence, which is having a devastating impact on local communities. As referenced in previous LARRP newsletter articles on the Community Safety Committee, LARRP has joined forces with the Department of Public Health Office of Violence Prevention to leverage our network capacity, Office of Violence Prevention data, and evidence-based violence interventions to advance strategies that mitigate and ultimately prevent the varying forms of violence plaguing our communities.

I am proud to announce that our efforts have been rewarded through the funding of a new $2 million dollar grant from the California Violence Intervention Program (CalVIP). In this collaboration, LARRP is playing a contributory role in the implementation of this effort. We seek to leverage the resources of those who have endured the arduous journey of rehabilitation after serving decades in prison for their lifestyles of violence and gang involvement. We believe that utilizing the experiences and voices of those who have survived the treacherous life of gang involvement will greatly infuse our effort to develop and apply practices and approaches germane to our community.

The Community Healing Collaborative (CHC) is a collaboration with 2nd Call (Skipp Townsend), Experience Christian Ministries (Pastor Shep Crawford), United We Stand Up, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (Pastor Joe Paul), and Centinela Youth Services (Ms. Jessica Ellis) to address community violence through community-led solutions that engage nonprofit and faith leaders.

CHC uses best-practice methods of street outreach based on the CURE Violence model and will identify young people ages 15-19 who are at highest risk for perpetrating violence and/or being victims of violence. Those at highest risk (and their families) will be engaged and supported through consistent contact by credible messengers, social services navigation support/referrals, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy supports, intergenerational mentoring and employment opportunities. Faith-based partners will be engaged in a partnership with street intervention experts and social service/mental health and restorative justice experts to create inter-generational healing, community cohesion and new norms. This model is designed to be replicable in adjacent neighborhoods, and seeks to reduce shootings, homicides, and aggravated assaults thus breaking the cycles of violence, trauma, incarceration and re-victimization.

  • Program elements include:
    Training and capacity building for faith leaders to do effective street outreach and intervention work (Peace Negotiators)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, support, and training for faith leaders and community members impacted by violence (Individual, Family, and Community Support)\
  • Community events, strategies, and engagements that build community efficacy and transfer intervention power to neighborhood residents (Healing and Community Efficacy)

It is imperative that we continue to widen the lens on what public safety and criminal justice reform really require. Crime prevention, particularly addressing the root causes and upstream drivers that are normally not considered “reentry” work, is critical to our long-term goal of creating a more “perfect union.” As we celebrate our July 4th Independence Day, remember that this Union is still being “perfected” and that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are inexorable rights for all citizens of these United States. Our fight is for the preservation of life – all life -- because there is no reentry from death.

If you are interested in contributing to our efforts please email me at joe@laareentry.org