The Community Engagement Ad Hoc Committee was tasked with planning a series of community mapping and listening sessions in selected neighborhoods to hear, elevate, and empower community members. The group worked to gather information from community members and organizations about available and needed services, supports, and policies, that promote alternatives to incarceration. We sought to understand what services and supports prevent incarceration and assist those re-entering their communities after incarceration. Where services are currently offered, we were interested in understanding who is being served and who has limited or no access to support. We recognize that community members need access to health, services, good employment, affordable housing, and thriving communities and seek to understand inequities in the distribution of resources and opportunities that promote well-being.
The Committee organized seven community workshops that have been identified through data from Million Dollar Hoods and The Advancement Project which highlighted areas where there are significant needs and gaps in resources available to prevent and address high rates of incarceration. These workshops were designed to be meaningful, intentional, and respectful of the environment of individuals and families that have been directly and indirectly impacted by incarceration to share information, identify challenges, and suggest opportunities for efforts aimed at preventing incarceration and addressing the needs of people re-entering after incarceration. The series of community engagement workshops were coordinated by one lead organization in each neighborhood: South LA (Community Coalition), East LA (Homeboy Industries), San Fernando Valley (San Fernando Valley Partnership), Lancaster (Paving the Way Foundation), El Monte (San Gabriel Valley Center), Long Beach (Ascent) and Pomona (Prototypes). The workshops included stipends for participants, language translation, childcare, counseling/healing services, and other resources to encourage the participation of over 450 people impacted by incarceration and the broader community.
Community members living in these communities and surrounding neighborhoods, along with service providers, were invited to elevate their own concerns and suggestions for improvements. Although these workshops are not able to touch every region impacted by incarceration, the hope is to continue these conversations with others in different areas of the county as we envision, improve, and implement the Alternatives to Incarceration Roadmap.