Reentry service providers from across Los Angeles came together for the launch of the Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative Tuesday, marking the first event of its kind in Southern California -- and possibly even the world.
The Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative (LARC) is a network of organizations partnering to promote successful reentry and reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals and reduce recidivism in the Greater Los Angeles area. Launched as an initiative of Center for Council and Beyond Us & Them, LARC supports a wide network of reentry service providers in Los Angeles, as one of 37 Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) funded by a statewide public-private partnership.
The inaugural gathering of the Los Angeles Reentry Collaborative marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of holistic community reintegration. Bringing together professionals from the realms of justice-involved and health domains, this event is a dynamic platform for collaboration and innovation. The day's agenda was powerfully structured, beginning with an engaging brainstorming session aimed at delineating the collaborative's focal points. Attendees were able to collectively chart the course for strategic priorities, harnessing their diverse expertise to shape the future of reentry support.
LARC is about actively identifying needs, and acting on those needs by creating a path forward. Five key points were offered that affect recidivism: physical and mental health care, employment, housing, education and social connection. Did you know that each year in prison is equated with two years less life expectancy? People who are incarcerated are more likely to have high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, etc. While six in ten individuals receive mental healthcare in prison, that number drops post-release. Access to healthcare and mental healthcare was highlighted as an area of strategic priority.
Incarcerated folks who participate in post-secondary education are 48% less likely to recidivate compared to those who do not; meanwhile, reentry programs that help build social connection and community connections can lead to a 50% reduction in recidivism. Employment and housing are two focal points where collaboration and trust amongst reentry professionals was also emphasized. An estimated 60% of those leaving prison are unemployed a year later, while homelessness leads to a 50% increase in risk of recidivism. Services are available for those who are recently released, but attendees note that because collaboration is lacking, a database centralized to resource management is needed.
It was also noted that the need for a digital literacy program is tremendous. Oftentimes, men and women reentering society are unaware of the technological advancements of modern day society, and a workshop teaching digital literacy to incarcerated folks on the brink of release would ease reintegration. Discussion ensued around emerging programs to teach digital literacy and conversations were initiated around developing such a program as a function of this collaborative.
But it was the council circles, large and small, that were the cornerstone of the day’s programming, and turned out to be crucial for building trust and relationships amongst folks within the sector. It was acknowledged that mistrust from organizations within the reentry space, and amongst those seeking services from providers, can be a barrier to successful reentry. Attendees agreed that chasing a competitive edge can sometimes deter service providers from collaborating across organizations, while acknowledging that partnership within this space is key.
With a shared commitment to transformative change, attendees explored avenues to amplify their ability to make a positive impact.
This event was an example of how LARC will resource the sector moving forward by creating social connection, building trust and offering opportunities to teambuild across the sector. With quarterly meetings planned over the next two and a half years, this convergence of minds, hearts and missions is poised to stimulate cross-disciplinary insights, foster dynamic partnerships, and fuel the momentum towards a more equitable and effective reentry process. All those who are passionate about these intersections are cordially invited to contribute their vision and expertise, united by a common goal: to reshape reentry dynamics and empower individuals for a brighter future.