DJDS | L.A. County Alternatives to Incarceration – Los Angeles, CA
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Team: Ramy Kim, Garrett Jacobs, Deanna Van Buren, Brandi Mack

Program Partners: JusticeLA Coalition, HR&A Advisors

Project Type: Regional Planning, Behavioral Health Infrastructure, Safe Spaces for Youth

Status: Active


The Care First, Jails Last Report, which was put forth by the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Working Group in Los Angeles County, is an extensive and groundbreaking resource that builds on decades of knowledge, culminating in evidence-based recommendations for alternatives to incarceration that are rooted in community safety. DJDS is partnering with organizing coalition JusticeLA and consulting group HR&A to implement recommendations from the Report. Our partnership team has been developing processes to choose where projects should be located, based on available data; developing processes to prioritize place-based programming driven by community engagement; and developing county-wide analysis tools for ATI implementation and coordination. The effort will serve as a national example of how community-led processes might work for organizers, counties, and other municipalities who want to repurpose budgets for new prisons, as well as an example of how to design for distributed care. Alternatives-to-incarceration facilities will be located at the heart of the communities that have been most impacted by punitive justice systems.

DJDS, JusticeLA, and HR&A are currently working on two simultaneous efforts.

One, the team is undertaking Concept Development of a pilot care center site, which the project constituents can then use as a catalyst for fundraising, pre-development, and construction. Our collaborative Concept Development Process will include the formation of a governance process for decision-making, design, and facilitation of a community engagement strategy, analysis of building and planning code, and financial analysis, all of which will inform the architectural design. This effort will set a process precedent within the County for how the ATI Director and County Board of Supervisors might in the future choose what to build, where, and for whom, as they plan for the development of additional ATI facilities.

The second effort is the development of an ATI resource mapping tool. Through the tool, stakeholders will be able to utilize city- and county-level data — in visual form, allowing for consideration of geographical context and a regional lens — to site and prioritize ATI care center sites, programming, operations, and investments.

For both of these efforts, the team is planning and designing with dual foci: one focus on local relevance and local reproducibility, and the other focus on how to iterate and generalize in other municipalities.