All day Tuesday some of the main players in the realm of LA criminal justice got together at the Davidson Center at USC and talked with each other and the audience about what a successful 21st Century criminal justice system ought to look like. Among those present were LAPD Chief Bill Bratton, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, LA civil rights attorney Connie Rice, gang intervention specialist, Bo Taylor, Urban League president Blair Taylor, author and former California state senator Tom Hayden, LA gang czar Jeff Carr…and lots more.
The discussions were moderated by journalist/author Joe Domanick and bounced around between such subjects as gangs and gang violence, California prisons, the LA County jail and the broken parole system.
I’ll blog about the high points later. But the conversations were remarkable for their lack of defensiveness or grandstanding. Everyone seemed to have showed up with the willingness to genuinely talk about solutions—and how the ideas discussed this week could get beyond talk to actual implementation.
Here’s some of what Victor Merina, Senior Fellow at the the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, wrote about the conference:
For Connie Rice, an attorney and architect of Los Angeles City’s landmark anti-gang report, reforming the criminal justice system is critical in dealing with an “endemic epidemic” of violence on community streets.
For Sheriff Lee Baca, who oversees the country’s largest jail system, a criminal justice system overtaxed by mental health issues among those incarcerated has worsened a staggering problem.
For Darren “Bo” Taylor, a former gang member who now works with at-risk youth as founder of Unity One, the everyday violence in communities of color is simply “a crisis. It’s an emergency.”
And Blair H. Taylor, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, puts it even more dramatically, calling the need to curb community violence today’s paramount issue. “It’s a problem, I believe, bigger than any problem in the 21st Century,” said Taylor, “bigger than global warming, bigger than terrorism.”
A civil rights attorney. A law enforcement official. An anti-gang worker. A community activist. All had warnings about the dangers of violent crime but all also shared optimism that a committed effort to change the criminal justice system could be a step toward curbing the mayhem and other crime that have shattered so many families.
Theirs were among the voices heard on the opening day of a three-day conference at the USC Davidson Executive Conference Center aimed at looking at one of the most vexing problems of the day: how to revamp a criminal justice system with its high recidivism rate and perceived inequities while also maintaining public safety……
The conference is sponsored by the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism and continues today and tomorrow. It is open to the public. Admission is free.