Reducing Over-incarceration Through Resentencing

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

California operates the second largest prison system in the United States. Los Angeles County is the largest contributor to this system, and while incarceration has declined, men and women of color continued to be incarcerated at higher rates than white men and women. Working with the Alternate Public Defender’s Office, a FUSE Executive Fellow will build out recommendations and implement a global, collaborative approach to resentencing indigent defense clients, to assist in remedying the decades-long over-incarceration in the state.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023 

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is responsible for the incarceration of nearly 100,000 adults, operating the second largest prison system in the United States. Men and women of color in California continue 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. Nearly 30% of all adults admitted to CDCR come from LA County. These 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 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. In 2022, LA County proposed a robust program designed to assist in remedying this decades-long over-incarceration in the state–the Public Defense Pilot Program. The program will develop a global, collaborative approach to resentencing indigent defense clients, supporting the successful reentry of resentenced and released LA County individuals back into their communities. The Alternate Public Defender (APD) recently received a grant from the state and is now prepared to initiate this specialized resentencing unit within its agency.

The Alternate Public Defender (APD) will partner with FUSE to support the delivery of the Public Defense Pilot Program. The FUSE Executive Fellow will refine and implement data collection and reporting systems to allow APD to understand and externally report on the program’s progress. The Executive Fellow will also break down silos between key agencies and build communication pathways to support the program’s success. This work will result in immediate resentencing and reentry for over-incarcerated individuals and provide the data and systems necessary to support a local justice system that is restorative and 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 project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Starting in October 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 the APD, Public Defender’s Office (PD), LA County Courts, the District Attorney (DA), the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and re-entry organization and service providers. The Executive Fellow will conduct a landscape analysis of the current processes and communication pathways between these varying stakeholders, determining gaps and assessing barriers to smooth and efficient cross-agency work and communication.

The Executive Fellow will then offer recommendations for process improvements and building robust communication structures – focusing on streamlining APD’s access to client correction files (C-files). This could include exploring and implementing new infrastructure and systems (moving beyond traditional forms of communication to utilize technology and video communications), identifying liaisons between teams and critical points of contact (building robust communication structures between the DA, CDCR, PD, and APD teams), and creating timelines for outreach and assessment of these files.

The Executive Fellow will also engage with local community groups and social service providers to identify the workflows required to deliverable comprehensive treatment and reentry plans to APD’s eligible clients. The Executive Fellow will outline how to best connect clients to a multitude of locally available services and service providers, streamlining the re-integration of these clients back into their communities.

Concurrently, the Executive Fellow will review the data collection and reporting systems of the office, particularly analyzing the previous metrics and narratives used to report back on the Pilot Program to date. The Executive Fellow will make recommendations for how to refine these systems, which additional key performance indicators to capture, and how to develop compelling narratives around this data. The Executive Fellow will ensure the departments processes are able to meet the reporting requirements of this grant and beyond, working to build the capabilities and capacity of the staff to advocate for the success of the program and for future funding.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Build robust communication pathways – Review current communication structures and workflows between stakeholders, determine gaps and barriers; brainstorm solutions and present recommendations to support coordination of c-files and re-entry resources; build a business case for the integration of how new technology, knowledge sharing structures, and workflows support each agency in reaching the goals of larger criminal justice system transformation
  • Refine reporting structures – Review current system, determine if current processes are meeting APD’s needs; identify additional data and relevant metrics to capture; build the capacity of staff and implement a system that ensures reporting obligations are easily met and the department can apply to future funding/grant opportunities effectively
  • Measure and assess progress – Work collaboratively with the Los Angeles County Bar Association and Public Defender, primarily their corresponding Executive Fellows, to prepare reports and ensure an authentic story is told about the Program’s development in each department; report to the Board on actions taken in the first few months, highlight the impact that this post-conviction work has a tangible impact/effect on re-integrating community members and recidivism

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Erika Anzoátegui, Alternate Public Defender; Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Office
  • Project Supervisor – Jenny Cheng, Head Deputy, Alternate Public Defender; Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Office

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background working in bureaucratic or politically charged environments and a passion for justice issues are strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 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.