Tag Archives: Mark Ridley-Thomas

Empowerment Congress Summit Tomorrow!

We’re all signed up for the Empowerment Congress Summit Tomorrow. This comes at a perfect time. Remember the blog post Art Reduces Crime. And More!, now we’ll have a chance to talk with people in person about this very subject.

Here’s the workshop Jess signed up for:

Beyond Incarceration: Envisioning a New Probation Department. Los Angeles County runs the largest probation department in the world, with over 2000 youth housed in 18 probation camps and 2 juvenile halls at any given point in time. With a cost per probationer of over $7500 a month, an average camp stay of four and half months, and a recidivism rate between 50-75%, many have challenged the effectiveness of the existing system. Led by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, many organizations have called for a consent decree to require Federal oversight over probation camp reform. In addition, the progressive alternative models that are being implemented around the nation provide resources and examples of what the Los Angeles County Probation Department should aspire to. This panel will explore these alternative models and discuss how Los Angeles County can best move forward with reform.

The plan is to print out the blog post, as well as other statistical information Jess has gathered. We’ll let you know how it goes!

More info about the summit below.

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Art Reduces Crime. And more!

Intersections : The South Los Angeles Report posted an article “Mark Ridley-Thomas has proposal for juvenile justice reform” a couple days ago. It read:

About 20,000 young people are on probation in Los Angeles County right now, and more than 40 percent of these youths will head right back to jail. Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas commissioned a report on making transition back into society more successful, and it makes some serious charges.

“We need to be smart about reentry,” Ridley-Thomas said.

The report found that some county juvenile detention camps have good reentry programs; some, but not all. The programs make sure that young people have a safe place, healthcare, addiction treatment, a support system and a plan for avoiding gang life before they leave. But the report argues that these transition services need to become institutionalized.

The researchers pointed to a few exemplary Los Angeles-based organizations as models for the Department of Corrections.

Well all we can say over here is: Don’t forget about art!!!

Art can lower crime, dropout rates, behavioral problems and more. And it’s signifigantly cheaper than the alternatives.  Here are the facts:

In the STAR program in Florida “each participant in Florida’s arts intervention program is only $850 per year—compared with as much as $28,000 per youth in the typical juvenile boot camp.”

And the Outcome of the STAR program: At the start of the STARS Program, 75& of the children were making less than a C average; now 80% are making a C average or better. Since the program’s inception, juvenile crime has dropped 28%, and for youth ages 11 and 12, the rate of recidivism has dropped 64%.

In Washington there’s the Experimental Gallery. Their goal is to teach responsible citizenship through the arts and the humanities. Their program offers workshops in creative writing, painting, drama, graphic design, sculpture, and videography are led by community artists and humanities scholars.

The Outcome of the Experimental Gallery: students in the Experimental Gallery overcome their behavioral problems by 75% and are 50% less likely to commit another crime.

In the words of Richard Romley, Maricopa County District Attorney in
Arizona, “As a prosecutor, I know that crime prevention pays far greater
dividends than prosecution. To this end, I make RICO funds available to
after-school arts and social programs for at-risk children that stimulate
imagination, develop skills and contribute to character development.
Children whose hearts and minds are nourished and challenged in
wholesome ways—such as by art, dance, theater, and sports—are much less
likely to succumb to the lure of crime.”

I could really go on with facts and statistics like this for days. Art affects us and our communities in so many positive ways. What I’d really love is for The Center : South LA to be able to be a part of statistic reporting like this. We’re doing what we can without a permanent space. And I’m proud of what we’ve done so far. But with some funding we could do SO MUCH MORE!!! Funding to pay for a space of our own. We’ve have amazing teachers ready and willing to teach great classes like graphic design, silkscreening, dance, etc… But classes like this require a space of our own.

Donate, please. Let’s do more.

You can email Mark Ridley-Thomas here: markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov

Briefcase Ready

briefcase presentation

Last Thursday our Director and Founder met with Deputy Randi Tahara in the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas:

Meeting her was such a pleasure. All of us working on the proposal assumed we’d get about 15 minutes of her time. Instead, I was in Randi’s office for an hour. As an actress herself, she is very involved in the arts world, not just professionally but personally.

Going forward, we’ll turn in a shortened 2-3 page proposal on the funding we’re asking for. Positive thinking!

A big thanks to everyone who worked so hard on the presentation! You guys did awesome.


And on the heels of this last meeting we’ve finally heard back from Bernard C. Park’s office and have a meeting scheduled with them this coming Thursday! Balls rolling!

Presentations done The Center style.

presentation covers

We’re gearing up for a big meeting this week. Thursday’s the day we meet with Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. A bunch of The Center peeps have been working hard on putting together an amazing presentation. Here’s a sneak peak of the covers for our presentation books. Real slats of super thin wood, stained and sealed.

Meeting the Big Shots

It took a lot of work, but we’re officially on the calender to meet with the Los Angeles County, Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Very awesome. It’s always great to have politicians supporting your cause. We’re working right now on putting together a cohesive presentation for him. This was one of his quotes when he made the move from Senator to Supervisor.

“I am energized by the challenges that lie ahead. My move to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors comes with a strong voter mandate for change, empowerment and results on important issues, such as health services, public safety, and economic development and jobs. This is as invigorating a homecoming as any public official could ever hope for. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for the people of the 2nd District,”

We can’t wait to meet him.

Still waiting to hear back from Bernard C. Parks, the district 8 Councilmember. We contacted the mayor today. And are getting the contact info for our California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger

So with this big meeting coming up we need some help. Tell your friends what we’re doing and have them fan our facebook page. Here’s the link to the page : LINK.

If you’re already one of our friends, please spread the word. Under the logo on our facebook page there’s a “Suggest to Friends” link. Click on that link and send it to your buddies. Just like this:

You’ll be our bestest friend.