Community Veteran Justice Project
This grant will allow us to expand assistance to LA area Veterans and their families by ensuring our Veteran clients receive the maximum benefit from the California Veteran alternative sentencing statutes. We will enhance our outreach to ensure maximum awareness among veterans who are in legal trouble while enhancing our educational programs for California defense attorneys. These attorneys often need assistance in applying the statues that were specifically designed to help break the cycle of veteran incarceration, homelessness, and suicide.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
CVJP is not submitting a ‘collaborative proposal’ per se, as our efforts are highly collaborative with the veteran community. We serve as a focal point to marshal various resources to help the Los Angeles County veteran. CVJP is establishing the infrastructure throughout the county in collaboration with the Department of Health Services (DHS), Department of Mental Health, the Veterans Administration, the Public Defender’s Office and other entities to create this coordinated system for all justice-involved veterans. In addition we are working with US Vets housing, treatment and special women’s programs, LA County Military and Veteran Affairs, the UCLA legal clinic and Veteran Family Wellness Center, Region 7 College Veteran Resource Centers, and the Los Angeles Veteran Collaborative.
What is the need you’re responding to?
While the assistance we provide to Veterans involved in LA County’s justice system is significant, we reach only a fraction of those eligible. Annually, approximately 10,000 service members transition home into LA County, but many struggle to adjust to civilian life. PTSD and other stresses have devastating effects on this population. 20 American heroes take their lives daily, only 3 are under the care of the VA; rates of veteran drug abuse and homelessness in LA Country are just as unacceptable. PTSD and mental health conditions are closely linked to legal problems for veterans, but the military has instilled a culture of not asking for help. Unfavorable legal outcomes for Veterans in LA County are a strong indicator of future problems and a downward spiral for this population. California legislators recognized these issues and implemented strong alternative sentencing statutes of which veterans are largely unaware and defense attorneys are often ill-prepared to implement.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
We are uniquely suited to take on the issue of breaking the chain of veteran incarceration, homeless and substance abuse because we are an up and running organization providing these services every day here in LA Country. We have helped more than 640 Veterans seek diversion and alternative sentencing under the California statutes while also connecting Vets to other essential services. Our reach is extensive with 17 local College Veteran Resources Center partners referring their student Veterans. We train hundreds of court-appointed and private attorneys to gain favorable outcomes, keeping our Vets out of the worst part of our legal system. This leverage among these influential groups is key to our success as we have been able to reach Vets in need and the attorney advocates, but we are also straining under this growth. Our dedication of purpose will allow this proven model to expand to meet the growing need – for the benefit of the Vet and the entire community.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
Direct Impact: 360,000
Indirect Impact: 10,000,000
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
Veterans are not only a distinct group but our friends and neighbors. LA County has more veterans than any other county in California, with about 330,000. Our veterans are 6 times more likely to commit suicide, up to 30% have experienced PTSD, and Veteran unemployment is 34% higher than the population. These numbers are even more dramatic for combat veterans. Research proves it is the military service that has caused the disparity compared to the general population. Breaking the cycle of incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse and the deterioration of veteran family units is not only needed to benefit our communities, it pays a debt that is owed to these brave men and women who served our country in its time of need.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
We define success by the number of Veterans we help navigate the complex LA Country criminal justice system, while referring then to vital mental health services. During our first year (10/17-10/18), we averaged helping 10 Veterans per month. This average grew to approx. 20 per month over the next 9 months and now averages about 38 per month. Clearly the growth trajectory is accelerating and unsustainable without additional funding. We will measure success by maintaining growth at a rate where we will be able to consistently provide help to at least 50 Veterans per month. An additional measure of our success will be achieving the goal of making training available to the more than 1,000 LA country court-appointed attorneys and the many private attorneys on proper usage of the California diversion and alternative sentencing statutes. We also have set a goal to automate our website, intake forms, referral process and to establish an automated process to identify the most at-risk Veterans so that these individuals can be provided extra assistance, especially rapid referral to mental health services, and to better leverage our limited staff resources to meet our goal of helping an average of 50 Veterans and Veteran families each month. Other successes are difficult to quantify especially relating to helping Veterans who are at major and immediate risk of major negative life events, but are nevertheless a critical component of the services we provide.
Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?
Access to mental health services
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
LA is the best place to LEARN
LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
Access to the LA2050 community
Host public events or gatherings
Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
Capacity, including staff
Strategy assistance and implementation