The Los Angeles Jail to Community Reentry Project seeks to inform improvements to reentry services for people returning to the community. This project expands upon the Substance Use and Mental Health Program's work on jail reentry in New York City using empirical data to assess the existing range of reentry interventions, with a particular focus on meeting the needs of L.A.’s racially and ethnically diverse jail population.

Vera's Substance Use and Mental Health program is working in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) and community partners in Boyle Heights and South L.A., two neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by incarceration. This study uses a mixed-methods approach, including administrative data analysis, interviews with people in the L.A. County Jail, and interviews with jail staff, service providers, and community leaders. Drawing from those findings, the study, supported by the California Endowment, aims to: 

  • Describe the reentry needs of incarcerated people, their views of existing services, including perceptions of the cultural fit of those services, and the extent to which the jail reentry planning process accurately identifies and meets their needs;
  • Describe stakeholders’ (jail staff, community-based service providers, and community leaders) views of reentry services and practical barriers to providing support; and
  • make recommendations for enhancements to existing reentry-services models that target the needs of the diverse jail population. 

The report and recommendations will serve as the starting point for the project’s planned second phase: working with the LACSD to implement our recommendations and test their effectiveness.

Why focus on jail reentry and culture-conscious services?

The stresses of reentry disproportionately affect people of color, who are both overrepresented in correctional environments throughout the country and less likely to receive vital reentry services. Despite high rates of jail admittances among African Americans and Latinos, there is considerable evidence that they receive in-custody behavioral health and treatment services at a lower rate than whites. Furthermore, research has found that African Americans and Latinos perceive there to be an insufficient level of cultural competency throughout the criminal justice system. While the racially and ethnically diverse population returning to communities from jail requires reentry services that identify and serve its needs, empirically tested models for building culturally competent correctional services are scarce. This project aims to begin to fill this knowledge gap while providing practical recommendations to our government partners about jail reentry.

For more information, contact program director Jim Parsons.


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