Safe and Effective Depopulation of Jails

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

Los Angeles County is actively pursuing the creation of an anti-racist community-based system of care for its criminal justice system. A major aspect of this initiative is to develop strong working relationships with the Court and justice partners to create diversion opportunities and alternatives to incarceration for clients. This work will entail building a robust continuum of mental health care, substance use disorder services, housing, case management, and links to employment and vocational training. The FUSE Executive Fellow will support local officials in identifying and diverting qualifying individuals to more appropriate forms of care, custody, and rehabilitation.

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

In July 2020, the Los Angeles County (LAC) Board of Supervisors approved a motion to launch the Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative (ARDI) with the goal of embedding anti-racist principles into LAC’s policies and programs. Since a disproportionate number of incarcerated individuals in Los Angeles are from BIPOC communities, LAC’s approach to criminal justice is a major focus of anti-racism efforts. To lead this reform, LAC has created the Alternatives to Incarceration Office (ATI) and Jail Closure Implementation Team (JCIT) and the Board of Supervisors introduced a motion to further shepherd these efforts into a more formal, centralized Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department (JCOD) to advance pretrial reform efforts into a streamlined pretrial services agency while expanding the community-based system of care and creating diversion opportunities and alternatives to incarceration for the clients coming into the criminal justice system.

The JCIT mission is to safely and methodically depopulate and eventually close Men’s Central Jail (MCJ). In order to achieve this goal, JCIT has implemented a Custody Alternatives Team (CAT), a multidisciplinary working group that utilizes data-driven profiles of people inclusive of charge/conviction and criminal backgrounds for the justice partners to evaluate and jointly recommend release options to the Court, in which the Court consents that an individual can safely be diverted or released from jail to community-based services. This will include those detained on pretrial status in lieu of bail that can be better served in the community with targeted supportive services and supervision until their case is dispositioned, as well as post-sentenced individuals with minimal time remaining on their sentence that could be served and supervised in the community to complete their sentences and reintegrate more effectively back into returning communities with the necessary supports. This is one of JCIT’s primary strategies to depopulate MCJ and will require identification, coordination, and adequate resources to establish a continuum of care (e.g., mental health centers, drug rehabilitation facilities, community-based support programs).

LAC will partner with FUSE Corps to advance the jail depopulation agenda. The FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct data analysis and support decision facilitation for CAT, monitor and document program outcomes in reports and formal communications, and develop program recommendations. The result of this work will be a more equitable justice system that advances safety and quality of life for all residents of Los Angeles County.

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 quickly develop deep relationships with a broad range of stakeholders, including Los Angeles County partners (e.g., District Attorney, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, Sheriff, Probation, Public Health, Mental Health, Health Services, ARDI), potential continuum of care providers (e.g., mental health and drug rehabilitation facilities,), and members of the public (with an emphasis on those formerly incarcerated). The Executive Fellow will seek to understand how these partners interact within the LAC justice system and current methods to facilitating carceral releases. In addition, the Executive Fellow will review best practices for prison depopulation and closure in regions similar to LAC.

Next, the Executive Fellow will support CAT and its justice partners on developing profiles of inmates who could be diverted or released to community-based alternatives. This support includes extensive data analysis to inform what alternatives will be safe and effective for both incarcerated individuals and the community at large. While conducting data analysis, the Executive Fellow should take steps to promote equitable outcomes rather than reinforcing historical exclusions with data. In addition, the Executive Fellow will advance the CAT agenda through day-to-day project management.

In addition, the Executive Fellow will oversee monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) practices to measure the effectiveness and safety of jail depopulation policies and decisions. As part of the MEL process, the Executive Fellow will document progress and lessons learned. They will craft official reports and external communications to inform the Board of Supervisors and the general public on the safety and efficacy of the CAT agenda.

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

  • Conduct a Stakeholder Listening Tour – Develop relationships with stakeholders in Los Angeles County government, community-based organizations, and members of the public to understand the resources, constraints, partnership opportunities, potential threats, and aspirations affecting CAT’s work; conduct research around best practices and progress to date
  • Support and Advance Custody Alternatives Team Decision-Making – Analyze data to inform CAT decisions on which alternatives to incarceration are appropriate for different profiles of inmates; advance CAT decisions through day-to-day project management, building the team’s capacity to interact with and support county-wide justice partners
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning – Create systems and procedures to measure the safety and efficacy of jail depopulation efforts; document activities and results to create formal reports and external communications

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Lesley Blacher, Jail Closure Implementation Team Manager; Chief Executive Officer’s Office
  • Project Supervisor – Gina Eachus, Senior Deputy County Counsel; Chief Executive Officer’s Office

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in the legal minutia of the justice system and data analysis and presentation skills 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.