Criminal Justice Reform: Community Justice Initiative

Among our commitments to criminal justice reform is our Community Justice Initiative (CJI). This is a collection of neighborhood-focused restorative justice, alternative sentencing and diversionary programs seeking to address the root causes of criminal behavior and achieve incarceration reduction. These revolutionary efforts within CJI offer compelling alternatives to incarceration for appropriate offenders and is aligned with national, state and local efforts to promote "smart justice" prevention, intervention and diversion approaches.CJI offers compelling alternatives to incarceration for appropriate offenders and is aligned with national, state and local efforts to promote new "smart justice" prevention, intervention and diversion approaches.

Community Justice Principles

  • Engaging and partnering with our community in the work we do.

The community helps us to help them.

  • Doing work in the true interest of our community.

Higher incarceration rates are not in the interest of the community, while restoring lives, neighborhoods, and environments are.

  • Creative and innovative problem-solving in the hopes of evolving our community. 

The City Attorney's Office as think tank and idea lab for justice innovation.

  • Justice “workers” as our community leaders.

Reframing the attorney role from “prosecutor” to “community leader”.

  • Creating a culture of civic-mindedness as we partner with our communities.

Stimulate people’s and inter-agency’s aspirations that their role in government is essential.

CJI PROGRAMS

ADMINISTRATIVE CITATION ENFORCEMENT

This is a non-criminal enforcement approach to nuisance abatement and quality of life offenses - which utilize civil fines (instead of arrest, incarceration and criminal records) - for people who violate LA's Municipal Code. This enforcement approach is far superior to the use of criminal courts and criminal sanctions to deal with minor matters of public behavior. This also includes forms related to Street Vending. Find out more about Administrative Citation Enforcement.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION / PUBLIC SAFETY MEDIATION

Dispute Resolution is a confidential, voluntary and free service in which a neutral third party facilitates communication between two people to resolve their disputes out of the courts. We now offer Public Safety Mediation, which provides an opportunity to mediate selected complaints of discourtesy and bias with the purpose of building understanding and transforming the relationship between LA's public safety officers and the communities they serve. Find out more about Dispute Resolution.

GANG ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING

The Gang Alternative Sentencing Program provides young adult offenders exhibiting risk factors predictive of gang membership and/or who commit misdemeanor gang crimes an alternative to jail time and unsupervised (summary) probation common in misdemeanor cases. This program is referred to as CURE (Community Uniting for Resolution and Empowerment) by community partner, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD). In this program, offenders otherwise eligible for a sentence of probation are identified and provided the opportunity to participate in supervised programs after they enter a no contest/guilty plea and as an alternative to sentencing and jail time. Successful participants may earn the reduction or dismissal of their criminal case. 

HOMELESS COURT CLINIC

Operated by HEART, the Homeless Engagement and Response Team, through an innovative partnership between the LA City Attorney's Office and the LA County Board of Supervisors, these pop-up legal clinics for people experiencing homelessness help resolve eligible traffic and pedestrian infractions and related warrants and fines which can detrimentally affect someone's ability to get a job, access social services or get permanent housing. Instead of paying fines they cannot afford, participants engage in services. ​For more information, email HEART or call 213-978-1937. Find out more about our work to help people experiencing homelessness.

LA DOOR

LA DOOR is a comprehensive, health-focused, preventative approach to addiction that proactively engages individuals at elevated risk of returning to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office on a new misdemeanor offense related to substance use, mental illness, or homelessness. Over 80% of LA DOOR participants are homeless. Rather than waiting to charge new arrests, LA DOOR delivers peer-led multidisciplinary social services to five "hotspot" locations - one for each day of the week - to proactively engage participants in substance use treatment, mental health support, physical healthcare, and case management – all without asking law enforcement to be the first point of contact. Though most participants are engaged through outreach, LA DOOR also offers pre-booking diversion on eligible Prop 47 drug arrests. Participants who go through pre-booking diversion can take advantage of LA DOOR services instead of having their arrest processed for charging.


To implement LA DOOR, the Office of the City Attorney partners with SSG Project 180 for its outreach and intensive outpatient case management services, West Angeles Community Development Corporation and Ms. Hazel’s House for LA DOOR transitional housing, and the Public Defender’s Office for addressing participants’ legal barriers.The LA DOOR project is one of several projects created by the City Attorney’s Recidivism Reduction and Drug Diversion Unit. For more information email Supervising Attorney Jamie Larson or email Senior Program Administrator Kyle Kirkpatrick.

MISDEMEANOR MENTAL HEALTH DIVERSION PILOT ("MACARTHUR PILOT")

Funded with a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and in partnership with many local agencies, this is another innovative approach to dealing with low-level offenders who suffer from mental illness and - in many instances - are experiencing homelessness. Understanding that these individuals are better served by mental health services and residential treatment - housing - instead of incarceration, an LA County Department of Mental Health expert will be able to recommend the defendant for pre-plea diversion under AB 1810. A defendant who complies with the conditions of diversion will have their case dismissed. This approach can yield significant benefits: reducing pretrial incarceration rates for those suffering from mental illness; decreasing costs related to the incarceration of those suffering from mental illness; increasing service linkage rates for justice-involved individuals suffering from mental illness; and ultimately, lowering recidivism rates for those suffering from mental illness. Since May, 69 people have been accepted into this program. For more information, email Assistant Supervisor, Central Operations, Kelly Boyer or email Senior Legal Clerk Betty Nisly.

NEIGHBORHOOD JUSTICE PROGRAM

Developed by LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, the Neighborhood Justice Program (NJP) allows some first-time, non-violent offenders to avoid court but still take responsibility for their actions. In this program, offenders appear before a panel of community volunteers to discuss the crime, its harm to the victims and community, and to determine an appropriate obligation. 

Some NJP Stats:

5876 cases referred to  NJP as of May 31,2020

3,366 cases resolved through community panels

5% Recidivism rate for those that have completed our program. 

24,500 Hours of Community Service/Obligations completed by our participants 

NJP trained about 400 community volunteers. 

Find out more about our Neighborhood Justice Program and learn about volunteer opportunities too.

PROSTITUTION DIVERSION

The Prostitution Diversion Program, which was established in 2008, focused first as a diversion program for first time adult offenders or “johns” (who were not arrested for soliciting a minor). The program began as a pilot in South Los Angeles along the Figueroa Corridor, an area known historically for street walking prostitution. For those defendants arrested first-time as prostitutes, they are given the opportunity to receive a diversion from prosecution if they agree to participate in an education program regarding the dangers of prostitution, how to keep themselves safe or risk reduction, and referrals to wrap around services to help them transition out of sex work.

 

City Attorney Mike Feuer expanded the program in 2013 to encompass the entire City of Los Angeles with special emphasis on a partnership with the Mary Magdalene Program to address issues of chronic prostitution in the San Fernando Valley. He also expanded eligibility for certain repeat offenses of prostitution citing that many prostitutes are in fact victims of sex trafficking.

TEEN COURT TRUANCY PREVENTION

The Truancy Prevention Program seeks to combat truancy through education, educating parents about their legal responsibility to send children to school through community outreach, letters, brochures, meetings and hearings. After a school year of providing these interventions, if parents continue failing to send their children to school, they could face prosecution for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In an effort to avoid prosecution of parents, City Attorney Mike Feuer has established the Truancy Teen Court, which allows parents to avoid prosecution through this pre-filing diversion program. In Truancy Teen Court a jury comprised of other students asks questions of the parents and their children to determine the underlying reasons for truancy. Some of the recommendations the jury may order include parenting class, restorative counseling, tutoring, mentoring, volunteering at school and letters of apology to teachers as measures to address truancy. For more information email Erika Sandoval.

TRANSITIONAL AGED YOUTH DIVERSION PILOT

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Public Defender (PD) and Alternate Public Defender (APD), is launching a services-centered diversion program for persons between the ages of 18-25. The Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) will be the case manager and service provider for the pilot. The initial pilot, due to the intensive case management involved, will have capacity for 8 to 10 participants as follows:

 

  • Persons in this age group charged with Penal Code §484a/490.2 (petty theft); PC 602 (any trespass section that is not domestic violence related); PC 647(f) (intoxicated in public); PC 415 (disturbing the peace); PC 594a (vandalism - depending on the victim and restitution amount); and in very limited circumstances VC10851a, will be eligible for the pilot; 

  • The Youth Advocate will interview and assess the candidates that accept the terms of the program and determine what services are needed; 

  • The Participant will waive time for arraignment and be placed on informal diversion for a period of six months and enter into a contract to check in with their case manager at least once a week, enroll in an academic program or employment, complete 20 hours of civic engagement and complete other terms as assessed based on need of the Participant;

  • Participants will come to court for monthly progress reports;

  • At the end of the diversion/completion of the program, the case will be dismissed and the participants will be provided with an exit plan. 

After three months, the program will be assessed and ways to expand the program to other service providers and to include a larger number of participants will be explored.  

COMMUNITY JUSTICE INITIATIVE TRUST FUND

The Community Justice Initiative (CJI) Trust Fund was established to support CJI programs and can accept donations from non-profit organizations, corporations, foundations and small business. To make a donation, a check can be made out directly to the City of Los Angeles, with a notation stating CJI Trust Fund. The CJI Trust Fund ensures that donated funds will be used for the public purpose of advancing the programs and goals of CJI.

 
The check can be mailed or delivered to the following address:                                Community Justice Initiative Trust Fund

Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney
200 N. Main Street, 8th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Charitable contributions to a State or its political subdivisions are tax deductible under section 170(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, provided the contribution or gift is made exclusively for public purposes. The City of Los Angeles is a chartered municipality and a political subdivision of the State of California.   


The following guidelines apply to entities providing support:            

 

  • Any amount $4,999.99 and under will be deposited directly into the CJI Trust Fund. 

  • Any amount $5,000.00 or more will go through a City Council acceptance process prior to being deposited into the CJI Trust Fund.                                    

  • Matching donations are accepted. 

  • The City Attorney’s Office will provide a letter acknowledging receipt of the contribution. 

  • For individuals seeking to make a contribution, in kind goods or volunteer services in lieu of a monetary donation can be accepted. 

For more information regarding CJI programs and volunteering, email Camilo Cruz

For information regarding the CJI Trust Fund, email Janette Flintoft.

 

[1] The deductibility of any contribution or gift will depend on your individual circumstances. Please consult with your tax advisor to determine whether your donation is tax deductible in whole or in part. This letter is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice.

Community Justice Principles