Optimizing Case Management to Support the Resentencing of Over-incarcerated Individuals

May 18, 2022

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FUSE Corps

LA County is taking critical steps to create an effective and scalable model for resentencing indigent defense clients, assisting in remedying the over-incarceration that has gone on in the State for decades. The Los Angeles County Bar Association (IDP) will partner with a FUSE Corps Executive Fellow to implement the Public Defense Pilot Program, a specialized resentencing unit within the agency, designing a collaborative approach to resentencing case management.

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.

PROJECT CONTEXT

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) incarcerates nearly 100,000 adults, operating the second largest prison system in the United States. Racial disparities are widespread in the justice system and while incarceration has declined, men and women of color in California continued to be incarcerated at higher rates than white men and women. Black men made up more than one-quarter (28%) of men incarcerated by the state — nearly five times higher than their share of all men in California. Black women were also overrepresented – imprisoned at a rate of 171 per 100,000 – more than five times the imprisonment rate of white women. Los Angeles County (LA County) is the largest contributor to the carceral system in California – with nearly 30% of all adults admitted to CDCR coming from the County. These shocking numbers reflect the broader history of the intersection between race, health, and incarceration across LA County and the entire United States. 

In recent years, Californians and their elected representatives have expressed their desire to reduce reliance on incarceration, calling for an end to excessive sentencing practices. This includes expanding procedures that return individuals, whose lengthy sentences did not match their culpability, to their respective families and communities. LA County embraces this opportunity, proposing a robust program designed to assist in remedying the over-incarceration that has gone on in the State for decades.

This Public Defense Pilot Program will take critical steps to create an effective and scalable model that provides indigent defense services in resentencing matters, addressing operational processes and workload associated with current resentencing initiatives to increase the number of individuals returning home, reuniting families and repairing communities. The Public Defense Pilot Program will develop a global, collaborative approach to resentencing indigent defense clients and then supporting the successful reentry of resentenced individuals back into their communities. The Public Defense Pilot Program will be carried out by the County’s three indigent defense agencies, the LA County Public Defender (PD), and its two conflict counsel agencies, the Alternate Public Defender’s Office (APD) and the Independent Defender Program of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (IDP).  

IDP coordinates assignment of defense counsel for indigent criminal defendants whose case presents a conflict of interest to the Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender. IDP vets, administers, and oversees a panel of over 200 independent attorneys who are individually appointed by the court to represent indigent defendants at all stages of the criminal process. After recently receiving a substantial funding investment from the State, IDP is now prepared to design and initiate a specialized resentencing unit within its agency.  

IDP will partner with FUSE Corps to implement the Public Defense Pilot Program, designing a collaborative approach to resentencing and case management. The FUSE Executive Fellow will analyze workflows, recommend process improvements, and build out a robust, sustainable oversight system for the program within the funding provided by the State Public Defense Pilot Program grant. The Executive Fellow will also work on developing and implementing data collection and reporting systems to allow IDP to understand and externally report the program’s progress. These efforts will enable IDP to more effectively and efficiently provide high-quality representation to individual eligible for resentencing under current reforms, with the goal of substantially reducing the number of incarcerated individuals whose cases originated in LA County. Ultimately, this work will not only result in immediate resentencing and reentry for over-incarcerated individuals, but also provide the data and systems necessary to support a local criminal justice system that is restorative and is rooted in a robust community-based system of care. 

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 conduct an initial listening tour and quickly build relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, primarily with staff across IDP, the Public Defender’s Office, Alternative Public Defender’s Office, and LA County Courts. The Executive Fellow will conduct a landscape analysis of the current case management processes within IDP for resentencing clients. This will include a review of workflows, evaluating the recent progress on the Public Defense Pilot Program, determining gaps, and assessing barriers to smooth and efficient communication between LACBA and external partners.

The Executive Fellow will then offer recommendations for process improvements around case assignment and attorney evaluation procedures, workflows related to referral and assignment of support staff to panel attorneys (social workers and mitigation specialists), and systems for ongoing case oversight and management. The Executive Fellow will design an oversight structure for the case management of the Public Defense Pilot Program that functions within the parameters of IDP’s panel of independent attorneys. This will include establishing systems and processes to ensure cases are moving forward in a timely and efficient manner, that the status of each case is reported to the administration, and that the outcomes of each case are captured. IDP hopes that this oversight structure for the case management of the Public Defense Pilot Program can be easily translated for use on other cases organization-wide. The Executive Fellow will bring a coalition of internal stakeholders together to ensure alignment in changing any current processes and begin implementing new structures, ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion are centered in the design and build-out of these processes.

The Executive fellow will simultaneously work on data collection, analysis, and reporting for the Public Defense Pilot Program. This will include reviewing current metrics and mechanisms that capture outcomes regarding IDP’s progress on post-conviction resentencing and determining what other data indicators IDP should capture to demonstrate the program’s success and its impact on criminal justice reform in LA County more broadly. The Executive Fellow will work to implement any new performance indicators and capture data on these defined metrics throughout the program year. The Executive Fellow will utilize this information to tell an authentic, strategic, and nuanced story about the Public Defense Pilot Program within IDP, submitting reports that demonstrate IDP is making sufficient progress towards the program’s goals while also demonstrating the return-on-investment of funding.

By July 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the critical stages of implementing an efficient and effective resentencing system within IDP. This will include the following:

  • Conduct a landscape analysis of resentencing and broader case management system within IDP, collating all relevant workflows, policies, and processes; map potential gaps and barriers; identify opportunities for collaboration and process improvement; interview all stakeholders and strengthen existing lines of communication between them
  • Prioritize recommendations and begin implementation – Build out recommendations to improve all critical workflows identified; initiate process improvements and align investments (resources and time); develop robust communication structures between internal and external teams; design an oversight structure for the case management of the Public Defense Pilot Program, ensure this structure fits into the parameters of IDP’s attorneys as independent consultants and that it can also be translated for use on other cases organization-wide
  • Engage stakeholders and catalyze buy-in – Build cross-departmental collaborations and partnerships that support effective workflows; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the new processes; support capacity building of staff, stewarding the adoption and use of the latest strategies and resources
  • Determine how to measure outcomes and assess progress – Work with stakeholders to identify relevant data and metrics; define new data parameters and results, tracking how new workflows and processes have impacted critical goals, such as reducing over-incarceration or broader criminal justice reform in the County; collect data, document quantitative and qualitative outcomes; report to the Board on actions taken in the first few months
  • Manage grant requirements and progress reports – Work collaboratively with the PD and APD, primarily their corresponding Executive Fellows, to prepare reports and ensure an authentic story is told about the program development in each department; determine metrics that are relevant across departments, aggregate outcomes, and ensure consistent and cohesive reporting; safeguard case and client anonymity between departments and within the reports and outcomes reported, retaining a high degree of ethical confidentiality
  • Support long-term implementation and ensure initiative sustainability – Develop the necessary internal and external systems to ensure that strategies are sustainable and successfully implemented; work with stakeholders and department leadership to manage the program, including embedding processes for continual evaluation of the system to facilitate cyclical process improvement

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Project Supervisor – Caneel Fraser, Assistant Director, Independent Defender Program, LA County Bar Association
  • Co- Executive Sponsor – Cyn Yamashiro, Directing Attorney, Independent Defense Services, Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Co- Executive Sponsor – Rene Philips, Manager – Public Safety, LA County Chief Executive Office

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 15 years of professional experience in management consulting, process improvement experience, and having a systems-orientation essential
  • Strong data acumen, having developed and measured metrics, using them to support a business case and make a persuasive argument
  • Able to maintain a high degree of confidentially, sensitive to the ethical nuances
  • Robust success in relationship building, having fostered collaborative environments
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement, facilitation, and presentation skills
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Experience working in high confidentiality and politically charged environments, prowess in managing delicate situations or stakeholders with patience
  • Robust change management experience, able to navigate culture shifts within cross-functional teams
  • Ability to create direction and quickly pivot within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Superior critical thinking analytical skills
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • A self-motivated and goal-oriented leader who can also be an independent worker
  • 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, or ethnicity

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.

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.