Center for Council joined forces with Wildwoods for a day in nature dedicated to supporting our reentry community and their loved ones.
The weather was perfect as attendees gathered on Saturday, October 21, to experience the beauty of the great outdoors right in the heart of Los Angeles at Vista Hermosa Natural Park. Families participating in our Council Reentry Program were invited to attend and there were activities for both adults and kids. Folks discovered the wonders of the park while exploring ways to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing through the simple joy of being outdoors.
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and is host to the largest number of individuals returning from state prisons. There are so many challenges that formerly incarcerated individuals face upon release, including finding housing and employment, the stigma of being an “ex-offender” and the repair and renewal of supportive and healthy relationships with families and friends. Recognizing and overcoming old habits and avoiding reversion to “the criminal mentality” can be an enormous hurdle to overcome when returning to one’s community. The culture in prison is often marked by power and aggression, resulting in adaptive behavior and communication that is inappropriate on the outside and can lead to conflict, harm and even rearrest. Participants in Nature Day reflected that the journey home requires relearning a great deal.
CRP supports program participants with a customized approach that offers warm hand-off support services initiated during incarceration, and continues throughout the release and reintegration process with case management, ongoing council sessions for participants and their families, and advanced training in council facilitation for those who have found healing in this practice and want to carry it to their communities.
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.
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.
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.