Inaugural ATI Impact Report

The ATI Office bases its policy development and program implementation on the Sequential Intercept Model, which aims to support people before they even come into contact with the criminal justice system and divert them from the wrong path. The model also focuses on supporting those within the criminal justice system to ensure better outcomes for individuals and communities.

The ATI Office identifies critical gaps in service throughout this model and works to disrupt the cyclical elements that lead people to a downward trajectory through the criminal justice system.

In its first year of operation, the ATI Office has:

  • Spent more than 430 hours holding meetings to engage community leaders and the public – including 130 hours focused on Care First Community Investment (formerly known as Measure J).
  • Supported the expansion of Alternative Crisis Response, building the foundation for the forthcoming 988 number to replace 911 and a law-enforcement response for mental health crisis calls.
  • Invested in the countywide expansion of Youth Diversion & the Rapid Diversion Court Program, working to divert juveniles and individuals with mental health or substance use disorders into care-first models.
  • Piloted programs such as ATI Pre-Filing Diversion & the ATI Incubation Academy.

The ATI Office is focused on addressing the impact of racial justice in the criminal justice system while keeping community partnership at the forefront of this work. It continues to expand the scope of its work to explicitly address current system gaps within Los Angeles County.

Your participation welcome! Email or click here for a calendar of events.

Songhai Armstead
Judge, ret.

A message from the ATI Executive Director

“The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” – Bryan Stevenson

Welcome to Los Angeles County’s new Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative website!

As the first executive director of this important initiative, I am honored to serve the community and help lead our County forward in fulfilling the vision of our Board of Supervisors to establish a human-focused approach to justice system engagement that truly prioritizes “care first, jails last.”

First, a little background: Our work will build on the groundbreaking accomplishments of the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group, unanimously established by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on February 12, 2019.  The group was charged with drafting a plan to build a more effective justice system.  With collaboration and leadership from community stakeholders, the Work Group put forward a comprehensive report that included five overarching strategies, twenty-six foundational recommendations, and 114 overall recommendations. On March 10, 2020, the Board adopted the five strategies, directed the creation of the Los Angeles County Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Unit, and directed that the new initiative begin to develop a strategic plan to implement the “care first, jails last” approach in Los Angeles County, all while maintaining continuous stakeholder engagement.

This work has never been more timely.

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Soon after the Board adopted the ATI motion, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world suddenly and drastically, highlighting the central importance of care and health system support, and further exposing a tragic disparity: that the very people deprived of these supports are those who need them most.  At the same time, we have witnessed attacks on African American and Latinx men and women, reopening some of our nation’s oldest and most painful wounds, and bringing virtually the entire world into the conversation about institutionalized racism in the American justice system. In the wake of these events, people everywhere have become more vocal about the need for thoughtful, long-lasting and transparent institutional changes to our justice system—changes backed up by data and real outcomes—to reduce racial inequities and improve community health and safety.

As ATI’s first executive director, my role is to fulfill and implement the Board’s “care first, jails last” vision through innovative, data-informed policy design, strategic coordination, transparency and accountability.  By way of this initiative, the County will strive to focus on care and preventing contact with the justice system whenever possible, while increasing access to services and the resources needed to maintain community health. This huge feat will take a village; on this website you will find various resources and a calendar of events if you, too, want to get involved.  Over time, this space will expand to provide additional information and opportunities for engagement.

In this moment, I am grateful and humbled to serve and walk alongside our community as we achieve these goals together.

We know that the success of ATI will enhance the overall health of the County and its residents.  With that in mind, please feel free to contact us at the link below. It is our pleasure to serve you!

Songhai Armstead
Executive Director, Alternatives to Incarceration initiative

Work Group Final Report

The roadmap from jail to care starts with the Work Group. This multidisciplinary group of community advocates, service providers, community members and County departmental leaders—chaired by Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of the California Endowment—developed and approved 114 recommendations through an intensive consensus-building process involving more than 1,000 government and community stakeholders over ten months. The Work Group’s vision will guide the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative as implementation of “care first, jails last” expands and advances.

Click here to read the full report.

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