Helping Former Inmates Re-Enter Society Successfully

Life Skills

Helping former inmates re-enter society and avoid going back to jail can be challenging unless they receive support and services from agencies with proven track records.

And so, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe authored a plan to identify multi-year funding and develop a competitive bidding process for agencies that work with this population and have demonstrated success in keeping them from re-offending.

“Our county needs proven service providers to continue doing the work they do,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The county benefits from their work and so we need to support them in a consistent and equitable way that takes into account the successful models they use. Reducing recidivism is important for public safety, it is cost effective and it is humane.”

Many individuals who have been incarcerated for violent, gang related crime are more likely to go back to jail upon their release because many have themselves been victims of violence in their communities and within their own families; most have spent time in the County’s foster care system and juvenile detention facilities; and they have significant substance abuse and mental health issues that make it difficult to transition well into a productive life.

However, there are promising service models out there that have had success in preventing recidivism. For example, a report from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that studied the non-profit, gang intervention organization, Homeboy Industries, noted that Homeboy’s holistic approach to helping ex-offenders with job referrals, mental health counseling, housing options and skills training in an easy one-stop shop, has been largely successful. However, that model does not neatly fit into the requirements for government funding.

The Board of Supervisors has asked the Chief Executive’s office to work with the Department of Probation and County Counsel report back early next year with the best method to continually fund organizations that have proven to be successful.