Public Access to LA County Files, Hiring Former Offenders, Trauma’s Effect on Infants, Ending ICE Contract in LA JailsMay 12th, 2015 by Taylor Walker
LA COUNTY’S NEW, EASY-TO-USE OPEN DATA WEBSITE
Late last week, LA County launched an “open data” website for public access to county records on crime statistics, budget expenditures, and more.
In the county employee salary section, there is a handy graph sorted by employees’ highest total compensation in 2013, which includes overtime and leave pay. When you go over and look for yourself, glance down at the third-highest paid person on the list. If you scroll down further, you’ll find some other interesting names.
The move by Interim Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai is a welcome and refreshing departure from the previous administration.
Hamai called the move “a tangible milestone in the county’s determination to provide new levels of transparency and accountability…”
In January, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved the open data initiative authored by Supe. Mark Ridley-Thomas.
LA COUNTY CONSIDERS GIVING BUSINESSES $$ TO HIRE PREVIOUSLY INCARCERATED PEOPLE
The LA County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday, on Supe. Hilda Solis’ motion to incentivize hiring former offenders.
Supe. Don Knabe co-sponsored the bill that would give money to certain businesses for hiring formerly incarcerated people, who face significant hurdles to employment when re-entering their communities and for many years afterward.
KPCC’s Rina Palta has the story. Here’s how it opens:
It took a year for Dayvon Williams to find a job after he left jail in 2009 and it wasn’t a very good one. He got a data entry gig that paid under the table.
“I had a temporary job, then another, then another,” he said.
Filling out application after application, checking “yes” when asked if he’d been convicted of a crime felt useless.
“I always felt like I never had a chance, they were just throwing away my application,” he said.
Employers are often reluctant to hire the formerly incarcerated, according to Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. She’s proposing using the county’s contracting process to give employers an incentive to hire the formerly incarcerated.
“The county gives out millions and millions of dollars in opportunities for different types of services,” she said, everything from food services to landscaping. Solis said the county could give a leg up to bids from contractors who employ people coming out of jail or prison.
WHAT TRAUMA DOES TO INFANTS
In an op-ed for the Chronicle of Social Change, Toni Heineman sheds light on how trauma affects babies brains and development, how it manifests in their behaviors, and what one intuitive mother did to help her foster baby begin to heal.
(Toni Heineman is the head of A Home Within, which matches volunteer therapists with current or former foster youths.)
Here’s a clip:
Experiences teach the brain what to expect and how to respond. When experiences are traumatic, the pathways getting the most use are those responding to the trauma, and that reduces the formation of other pathways needed for adaptive behavior and learning. Trauma in early childhood can result in stress and anxiety, speech and language delays, and impaired emotional regulation.
Infants who experience trauma often become withdrawn or distressed, as they develop a sense that the external environment, including their caretakers, is unable to provide security and relief. As a result, their responses can be unpredictable: crying when held, content when alone for hours.
They will stop sending signals or send disorganized messages because they don’t know which cry or look will get adults to give them what they need. And when inconsistency becomes a defining feature of their experience, infants become confused and overwhelmed.
Healthy infants gain confidence that their caregivers will help them manage periods of discomfort or distress, and are progressively more able to cope with these states in a consistent and predictable way. But when caregivers are emotionally absent, inconsistent, violent, or neglectful, infants often respond by becoming withdrawn or distressed and can develop a sense that the external environment, including caretakers, are unable to provide relief.
As a result, they experience excessive anxiety, anger and frustration, and unfulfilled longings to be taken care of. These feelings may become so extreme as to cause dissociative states.
Most fundamentally, trauma refers to an event that overwhelms the child’s capacity to integrate it. This means that children can’t comprehend traumatic events, that they don’t understand what has happened to them. We often talk about traumatized children being “flooded” with feelings. It’s not just that their emotions feel too big to manage, but that the feelings seem to come from nowhere and without warning.
LA COUNTY MAY END CONTROVERSIAL JAIL CONTRACT WITH FEDERAL IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
For the last twenty years, an agreement between LA County and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement embedded federal immigration agents in LA’s jails to identify inmates to deport.
Opponents say that under the agreement, the majority of inmates selected for deportation had not been convicted of a serious felony. Most counties across the nation have voided this agreement. LA is the last participating county in California.
The LA County Board of Supervisors will likely vote Tuesday on a motion co-sponsored by Supes. Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas to end the ICE program.
LA renewed the ICE contract as recently as last October, around the same time that Riverside and Orange County chose to terminate their agreements, and a few short weeks before a new sheriff would step in.
LA Sheriff Jim McDonnell said of the upcoming immigration enforcement program decision, “I welcome the opportunity to work with local, state and federal leaders as we develop policies and procedures that appropriately balance both promoting public safety and fortifying trust within the multiethnic communities that make up Los Angeles County.”
Before McDonnell, former Sheriff Lee Baca had a much different stance on immigration, participating for years in the costly Secure Communities program, which kept undocumented immigrants locked in county jails for 20 days, instead of the federally required 48 hours. And in 2012, Baca said that if CA governor Jerry Brown signed the TRUST Act, the sheriff’s department would not enforce it.
The LA Times’ Kate Linthicum has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:
The county entered into the agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement a decade ago. Along with placing immigration agents inside Twin Towers jail, the program trains certain jail employees to act as immigration agents to investigate whether inmates convicted of certain crimes are in the country illegally.
Supporters of the program say it is an essential tool to help identify deportable criminals who pose risks to the community. “It ensures that the dangerous folks who are incarcerated in our jails who are undocumented are promptly identified,” said Andrew Veis, a spokesman for Knabe.
Opponents say it results in racial profiling and has landed scores of immigrants who don’t have serious criminal records in deportation proceedings.
The number of law enforcement jurisdictions participating in 287(g) has fallen from 75 to 35 in recent years, according to ICE data, as municipalities across the country rethink their cooperation with federal immigration officials. Los Angeles and Orange are the only two counties in California that still participate in the program.