The Los Angeles Probation Department is laying the groundwork to enhance its supervision model which includes a more community-focused approach to its mission of supporting its 40,000 adult felony offenders under its supervision as they work to re-enter society successfully. All too often probationers may re-offend and return to custody during or following their probation supervision period. Through a combined strategy of enhanced probation supervision, implementation of community reentry centers, and the integration of credible messengers (individuals who were formerly justice-involved) to guide those recently released from custody, the Probation Department endeavors to reduce recidivism, improve supervision outcomes, and help clients’ lead positive lives.
One of the first steps in this new model is the planned opening of a community reentry center in early 2019. This center will provide client access to multiple service agencies (private and governmental) in one location which will facilitate risk assessment and case planning and connect clients to services and opportunities in the nearby communities in which they live. The Department is committed to utilizing evidence-based practices.
The re-entry center will be modeled after several like service centers in operation in both California and other states. Some positive outcome data indicates that probationers receiving services through these types of re-entry centers have demonstrated a recidivism rate one-fourth lower than clients that do not participate in a re-entry center type environment. The Probation Department intends to adapt its program to local needs and will be opening additional centers throughout the County in the next few years. A key component of this new re-entry strategy is the credible messenger program, which has also been implemented with success in other jurisdictions. Mentors with relevant life experience facilitate increased engagement with programs and services; reduction in re-arrests, and better relationships between system stakeholders and communities.
With two new major service components in development, the Department believes it is an opportune time to jump-start collective buy-in through a one-day re-entry conference, to be held in the spring of 2019, which will bring together 800 to 1,000 stakeholders from a broad spectrum of public and private stakeholders, including community groups, nonprofits, local and state government entities, and business and philanthropic organizations. This conference will be designed to yield concrete results, such as a gap analysis to identify missing or underprovided services and clarify how to distribute resources more effectively. To support this work, the County will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will help develop a structure and process for the replication of re-entry centers in other communities; lay the foundation for the credible messenger program conceptually and strategically with a written proposal and initiate its implementation; establish the parameters of the re-entry conference; and perform broad-based outreach to maximize participation. These initiatives work together towards an overarching mission – reducing recidivism by making probation a pathway to community services and reintegration into society.
Project Summary & Potential deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will conduct an overview of Department operations and get up to speed on the first re-entry center, meeting with its management, staff and community advisory board. The fellow will also meet with the other community advisory boards in place and act as a liaison with future re-entry centers to incorporate their views in planning. With this base of knowledge and feedback, the fellow will prepare a road map for the implementation of future re-entry centers. A similar process of orientation and study will follow regarding the credible messenger program, including potential travel to other cities and states (at County expense) for on-site interviews. As information-gathering continues, including outreach efforts with credible messenger candidates to get their input, the fellow will work on the re-entry conference by consulting with management and relevant public and private groups to define the agenda. This broad-based consultation will have the goal of making the conference a rallying point for the re-entry and credible messenger programs. The final portion of the fellowship will be dedicated to conceptualizing a credible messenger program and creating an implementation strategy that will launch before the year is concluded.
The fellow’s success in this endeavor will be evaluated based on several factors. The fellow will apply a strong project management background to the complexities of probation services delivery, utilizing an awareness of best practices in corrections, locally, nationally and internationally, and experience tackling challenges at a similar scale. This background, combined with strategic thinking, high-level skills in convening and listening to community groups and stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as consensus-building, will provide the fellow with the required tools to help the Probation Department achieve its goal of lower recidivism through increased community-based services.
- Conduct a landscape assessment: Conduct an overview of Department operations, with a special focus on the first re-entry center. Convene community advisory boards for the re-entry centers to incorporate their views in preparation of a strategic plan for rollout of future centers. Conduct an overview of various other jurisdictions’ credible messenger programs.
- Engage and align stakeholders: Establish ongoing lines of communication with stakeholders to create a shared vision that supports the community-focused changes built into the re-entry centers and the credible messenger program. Ensure all perspectives are heard and incorporated into the strategic planning process. Solicit points of view regarding the re-entry conference, giving all stakeholders a sense of shared participation in the agenda and proposed outcomes. Visit/communicate with leaders of the credible messenger programs, conducting interviews with service providers and clients.
- Develop strategic plans: Formulate a roadmap for the replication of the re-entry centers and present it to management, making sure to incorporate community viewpoints and the best-practices developed from the opening of the first center. Develop an agenda for the re-entry conference and incorporate feedback, ultimately getting all stakeholders on board with a final program and desired outcomes.
- Assist in the development and implementation of the credible messenger program: Begin to conceptualize the contours of the credible messenger program, addressing such questions as how to develop a County network of messengers, what training or support would they need? How many should service an area office? Work with internal and external stakeholders in the development. Create a proposal with recommendations for direct and contracted hires. Create a strategic plan for implementation of the credible messenger program, with specific goals defined along a timeline leading to full deployment. Begin implementation of a small-scale pilot to get an initial reading of its day-to-day operation and impact for both clients and mentors.
- Reaver Bingham, Deputy Chief, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Ronald Barrett, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Richard Giron, Bureau Chief, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Corrin Buchanan, Deputy Director, Office of Diversion and Reentry Management
- Kathy New, Senior Probation Director, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Randall Pineda, Probation Director, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in in project management.
- Experience in criminal justice or corrections field helpful, but not required.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially skeptical
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.