The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board) has taken several steps to reduce its reliance on incarceration and to expand diversion and treatment, including very recently calling for the creation of a new Justice, Care & Opportunities Department (JCOD). The new JCOD will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow to identify and develop a robust set of legislative strategies to address the gaps in the County’s service delivery systems, drafting and socializing a comprehensive plan to advance this legislation.
This fellowship project begins on July 25, 2022, and ends on July 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of July 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on August 1, 2022.
Los Angeles County is home to over 10 million residents, the largest by population in the United States. On any given night, more than 14,000 people are confined in the County’s jail system – over 5,000 of which have serious mental health needs. Residents of color are disproportionately incarcerated as well – for example, Black residents account for less than 10% of the County’s population, yet 29% of those imprisoned are Black. These shocking numbers are reflective of the broader history of the intersections between race, health, and incarceration across not just the County but also the entire United States.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board) recognizes this painful history, understanding that the current justice system is ill-equipped to respond to human conditions such as the pandemic, homelessness, poverty, mental illness, and addiction, conditions that often result in far too many people becoming trapped in cycles of incarceration. During recent years, the County has taken several steps to reduce its reliance on incarceration and to expand diversion and treatment. This includes creating the groundbreaking Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Office, embodying the Board’s commitment to a Care First, Jails Last vision and its desire to embed justice reform priorities and care first strategies across the County’s infrastructure.
Unfortunately, as this hard work has progressed, it has become clear that standing up justice reform programs through multiple departments has not integrated service delivery to the extent needed to achieve true justice reform. The current decentralized administration of services and programs for those who are justice impacted and/or vulnerable to justice system involvement has resulted in a fractured and siloed bureaucracy, and worse, a disjointed and gap-filled continuum of care for this population. Recognizing the need to break down these silos, the Board took action on March 1, 2022, calling for the creation of a new Justice, Care & Opportunities Department (JCOD). Under the JCOD, the centralization of currently scattered efforts to serve vulnerable justice-impacted populations will now become the singular focus of one department in the County.
The JCOD will also be responsible for identifying and addressing gaps in the County’s service delivery systems and work with relevant stakeholders to fill those gaps and create a robust continuum of care. Those gaps include a Medi-Cal system that currently splits the administration of mental health treatment from substance use treatment, making it difficult for service providers to deliver the integrated care clients need. Federal and state underinvestment in community-based mental health and substance use treatment has also led to a current system of care that is woefully inadequate to meet today’s demand.
To support this work, the JCOD will partner with FUSE to identify and develop a robust set of legislative strategies to address such gaps. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help draft any legislation needed and socialize a comprehensive plan to advance this legislation – acutely aware of political challenges and dynamics in the justice reform space. This work will be essential in the enabling the County to emerge as a bold leader in the national justice reform landscape, accelerating the transformative process of creating a more just and equitable Los Angeles County for all residents.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the executive fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work may be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE fellow and the host agency.
Starting in July 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will support the new JCOD in its launch, with a focus on shaping legislative strategies to enable the department to achieve its aims. The Executive Fellow will quickly build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including County Departments, law enforcement, District Attorney, Public Defender & Alternate Public Defender, Courts, community advocates and community-based organizations, non-profits, and organizations that administer carceral supports and wraparound services. The Executive Fellow will utilize these conversations to review the current system, progress to date on transitioning services under one department, and any relevant materials. The Executive Fellow will actively engage across a variety of stakeholders to build cross-departmental collaborations and private-public partnerships that can facilitate the implementation of the JCOD.
Next, the Executive Fellow will build out multiple strategies for the JCOD’s organization development. This will include an analysis of the various pathways, new legislation, or amendments to existing ordinances between the JCOD and other relevant departments that would support the transition of justice reform efforts and centralized service delivery under the JCOD. Based on this analysis, the Executive Fellow will recommend which legislative option(s) the ATI team should pursue and assist in drafting any needed legislation.
The Executive Fellow will then support the socialization of the chosen strategy broadly through the county. The Executive Fellow will develop a comprehensive plan that can be presented to the Board of Supervisors as well as the State legislature. The plan will outline how the new structure would address deficiencies in the existing County infrastructure, ensuring it can maximize community engagement, streamline workflows, leverage all available funding streams, and facilitate a person-centered approach to implementing the Board’s justice reform priorities in the County.
As a result of these efforts, Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system will be reimagined, creating a cohesive service delivery model that will support the County in finally realizing several critical justice reform goals. By July 2023, the Executive fellow will have overseen the following:
- Conduct a thorough review of the current system – Conduct an in-depth landscape analysis of current programs and services in the County targeting justice-impacted populations across the Sequential Intercept Model, with an eye to understanding how current laws and statutes may be creating potential gaps and barriers to consolidating the services under one department; identify opportunities for collaboration and process improvement; interview all stakeholders and strengthen existing lines of communication between them
- Build-out multiple legislative pathways – Design and analyze the feasibility of various legislative pathways for the consolidation of services and funding to better serve the justice population, including new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) or amendments to existing ordinances; present recommendations for which pathway(s) to pursue
- Implement the selected pathway – Assist with drafting recommended legislation and MOUs; socialize these to stakeholders, sharing the chosen strategy broadly; present to the Board of Supervisors a comprehensive business case
- Engage stakeholders and catalyze buy-in – Create robust communication structures between internal and external teams; identify barriers to implementing any potential legislative pathways; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the plan
- Executive Sponsor – Hon. Songhai Armstead (ret.), Executive Director – Alternatives to Incarceration Office, Chief Executive Office
- Project Supervisor – Vincent Holmes, Manager – Alternatives to Incarceration Office, Chief Executive Office
- Jean Ho, Consultant – Alternatives to Incarceration Office, Chief Executive Office
- Approximately 15 years of professional experience in legislative affairs, particularly with a strong record of success in developing systems-focused policy
- Background or experience in working with state and federal legislators
- Excellent stakeholder engagement and facilitation skills, able to bring both criminal justice reform advocates and law enforcement officials together
- Experience working in bureaucratic and politically charged environments
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills
- Robust change management experience, supporting change across multiple coalitions of stakeholders
- Ability to understand data and evidence and use it to support a business case, and make a persuasive argument to support recommendations
- Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations
- Success in managing cross-functional teams
- Self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
- Ability to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, ethnicity or political views
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.