Isaac Bryan MPP ’18 Elected to California Assembly

Isaac Bryan MPP ’18 is the newest member of the California Assembly. Bryan took his seat May 28 after winning a special election to represent the state Legislature’s 54th District, which includes Westwood, Culver City, Baldwin Hills and parts of South Los Angeles. “I didn’t get here by myself. I carry with me the passion, the dreams and the hopes of an entire community,” Bryan said after he was sworn in by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Bryan most recently served as the public policy director of the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. In 2020, he co-chaired the campaign for Measure J, which allocates nearly $1 billion of Los Angeles County’s annual budget to address racial injustice through community investments and alternatives to incarceration; the measure passed with 57% of the vote. While at UCLA Luskin, Bryan was named a David Bohnett Foundation Fellow in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and also worked with the Bunche Center’s Million Dollar Hoods research project, which documents the fiscal and human costs of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. In a UCLA Luskin profile, Bryan shared glimpses of his personal journey to becoming an advocate for criminal justice — and now, at age 29, the elected representative for the community surrounding UCLA. “Los Angeles, in my mind, is the city for innovation, the city for trying new things, and if you can solve a problem in Los Angeles, you can take it everywhere else,” Bryan said in a video accompanying the profile.


 

‘Halfway Home’ Book Talk Explores the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

Sociologist Reuben J. Miller shared highlights from his new book on the inequities of the U.S. criminal justice system during a virtual dialogue on March 11, part of the Transdisciplinary Speaker Series at UCLA Luskin. “Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration” is the culmination of Miller’s years of research in Chicago and Detroit, including over 250 interviews with prisoners, former prisoners, and their friends and families. “It takes more than a few hours and a few cups of coffee to learn about a person,” said Miller, explaining that he wanted to move past the caricatures we have learned to embrace. In the second half of the event, Social Welfare Chair Laura Abrams moderated a discussion about the repercussions of mass incarceration. Michael Mendoza, director of national advocacy for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, said prison is like a ghost that follows you throughout your life. “The prison-industrial complex doesn’t just punish people physically but emotionally and mentally as people try to get their footing on the ground,” he said. Amada Armenta Ph.D. sociology ’11, associate professor of urban planning, noted the importance of producing research on criminal justice that is accessible for readers in order to facilitate a dialogue. Isaac Bryan MPP ’18, director of the Black Policy Project at UCLA, spoke about making a radical commitment to recognizing the full humanity of people and the role that policy can play in mitigating systems of harm. “This book uplifts voices that need to be heard,” Bryan said. “This book can propel us forward and was made for a moment like this.” — Zoe Day

Watch the book talk
More on the Transdisciplinary Speaker Series