Reimagining the Prevention Network

23 Jun Reimagining the Prevention Network

According to the author and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon (1963), “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” And while every generation has its struggle to overcome, the path to justice and liberty amongst the indigenous (African Americans and Latinos) has been an uphill battle for centuries. Before examining current events concerning reimaging the Prevention Network (PN), we must revisit the past; more specifically, review the conditions that, 30 years ago, caused Karen Bass and a group of South Los Angeles residents to convene, organize, and identify solutions to address the root causes of addiction, poverty, and crime.

Post War World II, African American, and Latino families and workers migrated in mass to Los Angeles in hopes of opportunities in the booming industrial economy after Executive Order 8802 was issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt that lifted discrimination in hiring and promotions. However, South Los Angeles experienced a collapse in its economic infrastructure when over 300 manufacturing jobs uprooted overseas or to the city’s outskirts, leaving many jobless and destitute due to segregation, an inefficient transit system, and lack of political representation. Shortly after, South Los Angeles residents were introduced to the underground economy: the crack cocaine trade epidemic that employed the jobless and medicated those who needed to suppress the burdens and stressors of poverty. Unfortunately, the response to addiction and poverty from decisionmakers was criminalization. Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates issued “Operation Hammer,” which led to massive arrests of more than 700 African Americans and Latinos, resulting in mass incarceration, separation of families, and a failing education system that aided in the school-to-prison-pipeline.

Community Coalition was birthed from and in response to these conditions, with the radical and revolutionary theory of treatment over punishment with the formation of the Prevention Network (PN). Since its inception, the PN has produced actionable change and influenced public policy with campaigns such as Neighborhoods Fighting Back, Family Care not Foster Care, People on Welfare, and Education Reform through the formation of SCYEA. Although there have been many victories, the need to fight is prevalent more now than ever. Currently, the impact of COVID-19 has yet again left many unemployed and vulnerable. Perhaps, one of the most vulnerable groups is the re-entry population.

In April, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the release of over 3,500 people from prison. However, the question that remains is: what conditions are they being released to? This same question can be eerily applied to the enslaved after the notice of the Proclamation of Emancipation, when African Americans were released into freedom with no plan, direction, or resources- no safety net. Now more than ever, there is a need for residents, community members, agencies, and organizations to strategize and collectivize efforts to strengthen the social safety through demanding equitable distribution of resources for targeted, vulnerable populations.

We are currently asking for participation in completing a brief Needs Assessment survey to ensure that South Los Angeles service providers have a voice in decision-making processes that impact the delivery of social services in relation to human need. We believe that social service providers are critical agents in stabilizing vulnerable populations and have disseminated a survey throughout SPA 6 to engage providers in three sectors: Justice Reform, Prevention, and Treatment to reimagine the social safety net in context with the current public & global health crisis and beyond. As stated by our Prevention Manager-Cadrena Heard: “we alone cannot change the world, but we can contribute, and each contribution will affect change.”

Link to survey:

Survey Response Highlights: Based on a Total of 16 respondents
Top 3 Needs:
Access to funding, capacity building, and guidance from county officials
Top Services Provided:
Mental Health, Reentry Resources, Substance Misuse/Abuse Treatment, and Housing
Organizing Model:
Providers are incredibly interested in using organizing as a method/strategy to secure funding
Top 5 Social Determinants of Health (Based on Provider Selection): Income & Social Status, Education & Literacy, Physical Environment, Access to Health Services, and Employment & Working Conditions.

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