Two faculty members of the Department of Social Welfare, associate professor Laura Abrams and assistant professor Bridget Freisthler, recently completed a report for the County of Los Angeles titled the "Young Offender Reentry Blueprint," which was presented at a summit on juvenile justice, "Off the Page and Into Reality: A Call to Action to Implement the Los Angeles County Blueprint for Youth and Young Adult Reentry," held in downtown Los Angeles on February 16.
The blueprint was commissioned by the County of Los Angeles Department of Community and Senior Services and was supported by a $300,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Professors Abrams and Freisthler presented their research to more than 300 summit attendees, including representatives from the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board, the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Los Angeles City Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office, The California Wellness Foundation, and social service agencies throughout the region.
The blueprint lays out a multi-dimensional approach to successful reentry for juveniles and young adults, emphasizing 1) high quality reentry services to these populations both during incarceration and as they reenter their communities; 2) better coordination among existing agencies to streamline the reentry process, and 3) expanding positive opportunities that provide a better alternative to recidivism, including education, skills training, and jobs.
Prof. Abrams, who has done extensive research in the field of juvenile justice and barriers to reentry, commented that "In order for reentry to work, people from different sides of the table need to start talking to one another. If we want to make a difference we have to come together in some coordinated fashion."
Prof. Freisthler, who presented visual data that mapped each County district in terms of service locations, youth and adult probationers, unemployment, among other highly relevant data, said "When you see problems visually, all of a sudden it becomes real." The GIS (geographic information system) data is particularly valuable as regular data on juvenile reentry has not been readily available on a regular basis. "That's why it's incorporated into the social work curriculum—we are one of the few social work schools across the country that teaches GIS."
The Los Angeles County-sponsored blueprint project also involved Jessica Nolan Daugherty '10, an MPP alumna of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, who collaborated with Abrams and Freisthler on completing the report.
A complete copy of the blueprint is available online for download.