learn / 2016

Community Uniting for Resolution and Empowerment (CURE)

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Coalition for Responsible Community Development

A gang alternative sentencing program that redirects youth to productive activities such as education and job training in order to prevent escalation of misdemeanor offenses to felony level.

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

• Coalition for Responsible Community Development, • LA City Attorney Office, • LA County Public Defender

Please describe your project proposal.

CURE focuses on cases prosecuted by the City Attorney’s Anti-Gang Section. CURE offers youth an opportunity to earn the dismissal of their case by engaging in 12-18 months of education, vocational training, and wrap-around services such as mental health care. CURE is a violence prevention effort that redirects youth to productive activities in order to prevent escalation of misdemeanor offenses to felony level violence and to increase community safety.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College matriculation rates
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Student education pipeline
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

South LA has the highest number of youth aged 18-25 on probation - 6,339 in 2009 –among all LA County Supervisorial Districts (“County of LA Young Offender Blueprint”, 2011). Incarceration increases exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C, and negatively impacts employability and wages earned, which affect health (M. Massoglia, Incarceration, Health, and Racial Disparities in Health, Law and Society Review, Volume 42, No. 2, June 2008). With jail overcrowding and exposure to violence, youth with mental health conditions often worsen during incarceration (B. Holman and J. Ziedenberg, Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities, Justice Policy Institute, 2011).

The Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) will make LA the best place to LEARN by re-engaging disconnected youth who have been pushed out of the education system. Our youth experience many challenges and obstacles in obtaining their high school diploma and employment. CRCD tackles those challenges by providing an alternative project based education program that leads to a high school diploma; academic and support services to address barriers to high school diploma and college success; college navigation and completion support, and provides vocational training, placement and retention in employment.

CRCD will expand and promote alternative sentencing for low-income youth aged 18-25 as a violence prevention and learning strategy. Our model – known as CURE (Community Uniting for Resolution and Empowerment) - provides multiple interventions to youth charged with gang-related misdemeanors, including: workforce development activities, college readiness workshops, weekly restorative justice group circles, and community service learning projects such as community beautification and the 20th Annual South Los Angeles Jazz Festival.

To prevent criminal convictions and incarceration, CURE redirects youth away from jail toward prosocial activities to promote health, prevent escalation of misdemeanor offenses to felonies, reduce recidivism and violence, and increase community safety. CURE offers youth an opportunity to earn case dismissal/reduction by engaging with CRCD in 12-18 months of alternative secondary education, postsecondary education and training, career placement, and wrap-around services such as mental health care. Completion of this program will allow them to earn a reduction of the original charge(s), or a dismissal of their criminal case and, in applicable cases, are encouraged to petition for removal from enforcement of the City’s civil gang injunctions.

CRCD, the LA City Attorney, and LA County Public Defender developed a shared vision to prevent escalation of offenses. Since its launch in 2010, CRCD has engaged a total of 94 young people in diversion from incarceration and has catalyzed meaningful change in LA’s criminal justice system.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

CRCD defines success as a participant who enrolls, completes the program, and is successfully able to earn dismissal/reduction of gang-related misdemeanor charges.

In addition, the LA City Attorney’s office and CRCD work collaboratively to define and measure success for the CURE project. The City Attorney’s office evaluates the success of the program by evaluating: 1) The number of defendants that choose to participate in the program, 2) The number of defendants that successfully complete the program, 3) The time it takes defendants to successfully complete the program, and 4) The rate of recidivism for program participants once they complete.

The City Attorney’s office gathers data on the progress of the program on a monthly basis and submits to CRCD’s program manager on a monthly basis. The program manager works with his or her team to establish a baseline and develop benchmarks to create a continuous improvement plan. CRCD also seeks to have third party evaluation of our programs to determine success. The most recent third party evaluation of our CURE program was conducted by California State University, Los Angeles. The evaluation revealed that the CURE program shows promising outcomes among the targeted population.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support