LA County Launches Programs to Help Eligible Residents Request That Criminal Records be Reduced Under Prop 47
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 1 voted to pass a motion introduced by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis that calls on County agencies to proactively identify residents who are eligible for Proposition 47 and to assist them in the process of requesting reductions of their criminal convictions. The motion also aims to remove barriers to employment by directly connecting these residents with job opportunities and with other services that could help them thrive as they re-join their communities.
Proposition 47, which passed last year, reduced several non-violent, non-serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Since the passage of Prop 47, fewer than 50,000 eligible County residents have applied to have their criminal records reduced or eliminated, even though at least 690,000 are eligible for reduced sentences. A recent California Endowment survey found that only 29 percent of Los Angeles residents were even aware of Prop 47.
“The purpose of the bill was to stop wasting prison space on low-level offenders, and to remove obstacles preventing people who had already served their time from becoming productive members of society,” said Supervisor Solis. “The law has successfully reduced prison and jail populations, but in order to fulfill the true potential of this law, we need to help these men and women access jobs and services that will help them succeed as they return to society.
“The clock is ticking: the law set a 2017 deadline for all resentencing petitions,” said Supervisor Solis. “If this deadline passes without a significant acceleration in applications, Los Angeles County will have missed a significant opportunity to set people on the road to productive citizenship, and by default, we will make our neighborhoods more vulnerable to potential crimes.”
Supervisor Solis’ motion, which was co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, requires that County staff receive training so that personnel can effectively and promptly refer eligible candidates to appropriate services. The Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender will subsequently help these candidates apply for resentencing.
“With Prop 47, people who have committed certain non-violent and non-serious crimes have a chance to turn over a new leaf,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We must not squander this opportunity – this mandate – to reform our criminal justice system so that it’s less punitive and more humane, with the potential to be healing and transformative.”
In addition, the motion calls for the development of a public-private partnership that would introduce these applicants to jobs and services through a newly-formed task force.
“Connecting these individuals to employment opportunities will give them a second chance because nothing stops a bullet like a job,” said Supervisor Solis. “While we realize that intensive healing of trauma is even more important than employment, there is no doubt that a job can provide a sense of dignity, purpose, hope and an income—all of which help prevent crimes.”
Prominent civic institutions will serve on the task force and will discuss how they can assist these men and women. Representatives from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, The California Endowment, and Los Angeles Trade Tech College are all expected to help.
“A major transformation is underway within our criminal justice system,” said Supervisor Solis. “Our County faces a complex challenge that will require an unprecedented collaboration among public and private stakeholders to create opportunities for individuals seeking another chance in life.”
To read the motion, click here.
LA County to Join Amicus Brief Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Review Ruling Upholding Injunction of President Obama’s DACA/DAPA Immigration Initiatives
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to join the cities of New York and Los Angeles by signing on to an amicus brief urging that the U.S. Supreme Court review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit that affirms a temporary injunction impeding the implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review Texas v. United States, Los Angeles County Counsel has been directed to join the other jurisdictions and organizations who have added their names to the amicus brief, which seeks to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision so that President Obama’s executive action is upheld.
“Earlier this year, a U.S. federal district court issued a temporary injunction thwarting the implementation of the President’s Deferred Action plan, and on Nov. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the federal judge’s preliminary injunction, further preventing the expansion of DACA/DAPA,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who introduced the motion at today’s Board meeting.
“As a result, the Department of Homeland Security will continue to hold off on its plans to accept additional applications under an expansion of deferred action programs,” Supervisor Solis said. “It is important for Los Angeles County to voice its support because immigrant integration is about laying the foundation for equality and justice.
“A delay in providing temporary legal protections and work permits to eligible immigrants means that we are splitting families apart. While most of these youth are already part of a shadow workforce, eligibility to receive temporary legal work authorization provides them with the opportunity to pursue better jobs,” Supervisor Solis said.
By expanding on deferred action programs, more of our youth will then have an opportunity to earn a degree, earn higher wages, and help strengthen tax revenues for the local economy. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored the motion.To read the motion, click here.
Grand Opening of NEW Southeast Los Angeles Field Office
Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and her First District staff celebrated the grand opening of their new Southeast Los Angeles Field Office on Dec. 5 by hosting a free community resource fair.
“Community engagement is a priority for me and my staff because we need to hear directly from our constituents - and that is why we celebrate this grand opening of our new Southeast Los Angeles field office,” said Supervisor Solis at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is not my office; it is your office. Welcome! But, I'll remind you 'que somos una familia' - we are a family. I want to continue working with you, but we also need you to come work with us. One year after you elected me as your First District Supervisor, I came through on my promise to open a new Southeast Los Angeles Field Office. We're here, with you. Join us.”
The new field office is located at 2677 Zoe Ave., Huntington Park. At the community resource fair, attendees were offered free flu shots and dental screenings, among other services.
East Los Angeles
Hollenbeck Youth Center: Holiday Cheer
On Dec. 1, the Hollenbeck Youth Center and its partners hosted a tree lighting ceremony and toy collection kick-off, leading up to its 10 a.m. Dec. 12 Miracle on 1st Street Toy Giveaway.
Through their collective effort, the Hollenbeck Youth Center hosts a series of holiday events for thousands of residents from all over the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Many organizations and thousands of residents join in the festivities upholding the value that, “All kids are a lifetime investment.”
“The holidays are a special time of the year, bringing families together for joy, unity, and prosperity,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “The holiday season fosters a sense of community, as neighbors, friends and family come together to reflect on their blessings.”
If you would like to participate in the Dec. 12 event, please call Priscilla Hernandez at 323-881-6562. You could stream a public service announcement promoting this event by clicking here.
East Los Angeles
Toy Giveaway: Bringing Joy to Children
During the holidays, we often benefit more when we give to others than when we receive. In that spirit, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, along with the Teamsters Horsemen Chapter 42, sponsored a Christmas toy giveaway in East Los Angeles on Dec. 6.
“A child’s face often lights up when he or she receives a toy during the holiday season,” said Supervisor Solis. “Unfortunately, too many children in Los Angeles County do without toys and without other basic necessities of shelter and food.
“But, we can all make a difference. By donating a toy, we can help brighten a child’s life – and that is one of the best holiday gifts anyone can receive,” Supervisor Solis said.
Garfield High School's marching band performed at the giveaway. Families with children who are struggling financially this year were encouraged to stop by to pick up a gift. A resource fair and small market were also available so that attendees could pick up informational brochures detailing the various services provided by County departments.
Metro Board Delays Construction of New Downtown Rail Line Extension After Local Retailers and Residents Complain
The Board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted on Dec. 3 to postpone a construction project in Little Tokyo by a month after several small business owners and residents expressed their concerns that the plan would disrupt upcoming holiday events.
“We honor and respect the fact that this time of year is a culturally significant season for those who live and work in Little Tokyo. We listened to the concerns of those who may be affected by this construction project and we took that into consideration,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who sits on the Metro Board.
“The Regional Connector is an important but complicated project and we want to do our best to complete it on time, while working with - not against - the community,” Supervisor Solis said. “I appreciate the Board’s willingness to listen to local residents and to delay construction until early January.”
Metro is constructing a new 1.9-mile Metro rail extension line – or Regional Connector – that would link the Gold Line’s Little Tokyo/Arts District station with the 7th Street/Metro Center station in downtown. The new line will give passengers an option to directly transfer to the Blue, Expo, Red and Purple Lines, without having to travel to Union Station.
The underground rail extension line will serve Little Tokyo and the Arts District, among other downtown neighborhoods.
Last month, Metro announced that it would move up the date of construction, which would be near the intersection of 1st Street and Alameda Street. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in spring 2016, but the Board pushed up the date to Dec. 4 because of unexpected construction problems. The project will require a more than two-month closure of 1st Street and lane closures on Alameda Street.
“It is vital to mitigate potential impacts that construction will have on the Little Tokyo business community during the busy holiday shopping season, which accounts for a significant amount of their annual revenue,” Supervisor Michael Antonovich said. "We appreciate the business community bringing this matter to our attention so we could provide solutions to the problem."
December is one of Little Tokyo’s busiest commercial retail months of the year, given that the holiday season culminates with a Japanese New Year celebration observed on Jan. 1.Residents said they were concerned the project would increase traffic on their side streets. Small business owners in Little Tokyo attended Board meetings and sent letters to Metro expressing their apprehension about the construction project’s financial impact before they decided to pursue litigation.