PSA

Students Matter / Voices Of Vergara by clint hanaway

“We owe it to the six million students in California’s public education system to be thoughtful and deliberate, and to put their needs first as we move forward.”
— Congressman George Miller

 

Shooting these videos for Students Matter across the state of California with the wonderful Samara Rosenbaum was one of the more touching experiences I've had in recent filmmaking. The people fighting for California student's constitutional right to educational equality moved me. Please explore how Vergara v. California is effecting children and teachers across the state.

Click Here for an interactive experience of the following videos.

Community organizer Shirley Ford of Los Angeles supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit Vergara v. California.
Bishop Dr. Robert T. Douglas of Jacob's Ladder Community Fellowship Church in Inglewood supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.
Elementary school principal Leo Fuchs of Oakland supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.
“Vergara vs. California is built on the simple and undeniable premise that every child — regardless of background — deserves a quality education.”
— Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Los Angeles parent Omar Cavillo supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit Vergara v. California.
Former teacher and principal Darryl Walker of Sacramento supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.
Los Angeles teacher Grace Young supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit Vergara v. California.
“Californians have been generous in supporting our schools and they have been patient about their expectations. But Vergara has made it clear that their patience is at an end and they are waiting for us to act.”
— Asm. Shirley Weber
Carmichael parent Damaris Canton supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.
Parent, school administrator and former teacher Shelli Kurth of San Diego supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.
2015 Sacramento County Teacher of the Year Jennifer Walker supports the student plaintiffs in the education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California.

KPCC / Critics say overhaul of LA jails not enough by clint hanaway

I recently shot the video in this article with documentary filmmaker Samara Rosenbaum in downtown Los Angeles. This Article originally appeared on KPCC Crime & Justice / HERE

Former inmates take legal action to stop discriminatory jail practices of discharging mentally disabled homeless in the middle of the night with no resources or support.

As Los Angeles County promises major changes inside its sprawling and troubled jail system, advocates for the mentally ill say leaders are leaving out a key component for successful reform.

Under federally imposed orders approved by a judge this summer, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department must improve mental health treatment inside the jails. In addition, the department must devise discharge plans for inmates that could include a referral to a social worker or prescription for medications.

But advocates say that's where many former inmates fall off their treatment plan and end up back in crisis, and often, back in jail.

“We ought to be allowing them to exit jail with at least a reasonable chance that they won’t be back any time soon," said UCLA Law Professor Gary Blasi, an attorney with Public Counsel, which is suing to have a say in the court-imposed reforms. 

He said inmates need a “warm hand-off” from jailer to social worker because they often lack the capacity to navigate a complicated web of county mental health facilities and services.

“That means that you have a human being in one system who connects with another human being in another system,” Blasi said.  “They assume responsibility for seeing that the person doesn’t get dropped in the gap between the bureaucracies.”


Thousands of mentally ill inmates are released from L.A. County jails every year. The population of inmates with serious mental health conditions has continued to grow. 

In August, after years of monitoring conditions, the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with the sheriff's department to massively overhaul how such inmates are treated while in jail. 

Now, Public Counsel, representing a group of former inmates, is going to court to "intervene" in the case and alter the settlement agreement.

The current agreement “creates practices that will continue to cycle the mentally ill between Skid Row and the County Jails, depriving them of necessary medical and psychiatric services,” according to a Public Counsel statement. 

County officials were not immediately available for comment. When they announced reforms last month, county and federal officials called them “historic.”

The provisions in the settlement agreement will “usher in a new era” for treatment of mentally ill inmates in the county’s jail system, said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker.

Blasi acknowledged the improvements in care for inmates could be significant. But he called the plan for inmates on their way out “ill-conceived” and in violation of the American with Disabilities Act because it fails to provide adequate care to mentally ill people.

Public counsel also argues the reforms fail to cover key mental health disorders like dementia and personality disorders, even though they can be more disabling than schizophrenia, said Blasi.

Many of the mentally ill inmates inside L.A. County jails committed minor crimes and never should have been arrested in the first – or at least should have gone to a hospital instead of jail, said Blasi.

That’s a view shared by District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who released a plan in July to divert more people from jail.

Lacey recommended mental health training for all law enforcement officers in the county, as well as steps for building up a network of treatment options for lower level offenders who don't necessarily belong in jail.