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WHY FOLA?

Fighting to Break The Cycle for Families

FOLA aims to end the cycle of incarceration and re-incarceration that affects millions of families in the United States every year.

We do this by serving as a bridge between families, inmates, and the community, to break the cycle of crime.  We provide supportive services to the families of those incarcerated and link them to other needed services provided by community organizations and government programs. We also support inmates and ex-inmates in making a successful transition into society.

95% of inmates are released to the community; 70% return to prison. In most cases, the underlying cause of criminal behavior, such as substance abuse, are never addressed.

 
California taxpayers pay minimum of $50,000 per year, per prisoner (2010)
In addition, when someone goes to jail or prison:

  • Families struggle to maintain contact.  Without the families’ support, ex-inmates are more likely to return to a life of crime.
  • Families lose a source of income, while incurring incarceration-related expenses that reduce the quality of life for them and their children.
  • Families and children are stigmatized and may face discrimination. Parents face numerous child-rearing issues.
  • Children face numerous challenges, which may include anxiety or anger as result of their “missing” parents.
  • Children are at high-risk for academic failure.

Mary Weaver, Executive Director of Friends Outside in Los Angeles County (FOLA) addresses the correlation between children of inmates becoming the next generation of inmates. By reducing the chances of someone going back to prison, FOLA helps save families and saves tax-payers dollars because it is costs a lot to incarcerate.

THE US CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: COLD HARD FACTS

  1. One in 100 persons in the United States is incarcerated.
  2. 2.2 million individuals in the United States are incarcerated.
  3. The United States incarcerates more persons per capita than any other country ever in the world.
  4. An estimated 80 – 85% of state prisoners in California have a substance abuse-related problem. Of these, 5% receive treatment.
  5. At a rate of 71%, California has the highest rate of “recidivism” (return to custody) in the United States.
  6. Incarceration costs taxpayers $42,000 per year per prisoner.
  7. With approximately 20,000 inmates, Los Angeles County has the largest jail system in the world.
  8. Los Angeles County jails hold more mentally ill persons under one roof than are held anywhere else in the U.S., including institutions designed for the mentally ill.
  9. African-American men abuse drugs at a rate that is equivalent to Caucasian men. However, five times more African-American males are sentenced to jail or prison for drug-related crimes than are Caucasian males.
  10. In 2002, one in four of the persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS had been released from prison.
  11. The correlation between dropping out of school and prison is greater than the correlation between smoking and cancer.
  12. The two most common factors amongst released prisoners who successfully complete parole are intact family ties and employment.
  13. There are two million children with incarcerated parents in the United States. Without intervention, these children are considered to be six times more likely than their peers to become criminal offenders.
Sources:
 The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
 Oregon Department of Correction
 The New York Times
 The Prison-Industrial Complex, Eric Schlosser, The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1998

FOLA IS A BRIDGE

Bridging the Gap Between Incarceration and Freedom

Friends Outside in Los Angeles County serves as a bridge between families, inmates, and the community, to break the cycle of crime. Friends Outside creates the bridge by providing supportive services to the families of those incarcerated and linking families to community organizations and government programs. We also support inmates and ex-inmates in making a successful transition into society.
 
California taxpayers pay minimum of $50,000 per year, per prisoner (2010)

  • Families struggle to maintain contact. Without the families’ support, ex-inmates are more likely to return to a life of crime.
  • Families lose a source of income, while incurring incarceration-related expenses that reduce the quality of life for them and their children.
  • Families and children are stigmatized and may face discrimination. Parents face numerous child-rearing issues.
  • Children face numerous challenges, which may include anxiety or anger as result of their “missing” parents.
  • The children are at high-risk for academic failure.

FOLA’s services are available from a number of service sites across Los Angeles County, and include an after-school program for children with incarcerated parents, job assistance, emergency food, bus tokens, emotional support, support groups, client advocacy, information about the criminal justice system, and resource referrals.


WE ARE FAMILY-CENTERED

We are one of very few organizations in the United States which addresses the needs of a forgotten part of our society – children and families with incarcerated loved ones – while also addressing the needs of the re-entry population (i.e., inmates and released inmates).

We believe in the importance of family and surrogate family/friends, who can be instrumental in providing their incarcerated loved ones with the support and motivation they need to change.

We believe in the importance of appropriate contact and communication between men and women who are incarcerated and their family and friends when both parties wish to do so. Research shows that maintaining and strengthening an inmate’s relationship to his/her family members reduces recidivism (the number of former inmates returning to prison).

Visits and other kinds of communication between inmates and their families can help alleviate anxiety and stress which can lead to problems while in prison.  At the same time, studies have substantiated that maintaining a child-parent relationship during a parent’s incarceration can have a positive impact on a child’s emotional development, school adjustment, and behavior.


OUR GOALS

Providing and improving links between families and their incarcerated loved ones, when mutually desired:

  • Improving interpersonal relationships between families and their incarcerated loved ones.
  • Increasing contacts between families and their incarcerated loved ones.
  • Improving the quality of communication between families and their incarcerated loved ones.
  • Increasing the rate of positive reunification between families and their incarcerated loved ones.

Providing and linking children and families, prisoners, and former prisoners with services:

  • Increase the quantity and improve the quality of resources available to children and families, prisoners, and former prisoners.
  • Reducing stress, social isolation, and social failure among children and families, prisoners, and former prisoners.
  • Increasing self-sufficiency amongst families of prisoners, prisoners, and former prisoners.
  • Establish and maintain working relationships with other community resources.

Reducing or preventing multi-generation crime:

  • Ameliorating the unintended effects of familial crime and incarceration upon children.
  • Improving parent/child relationships among families of prisoners.
  • Improving the ability of families of prisoners to provide emotional and material support to their children.

Supporting responsible and humane treatment of children and families of prisoners and their incarcerated loved ones:

  • Increasing public awareness of the unintended consequences of incarceration.
  • Increasing the availability of and access to alternatives to incarceration.

To help our clients become more self-sufficient, to reduce recidivism; to reduce inter-generational crime and incarceration; and, to reduce the reliance of imprisonment in response to social ills and replace it with more cost-effective responses which have a less destructive impact on families and communities — these are what we strive for daily.Mary Weaver, Executive Director, FOLA


OUR REPUTATION

Since 1972, Friends Outside in Los Angeles County (FOLA) has been a premier provider of “re-entry” services across the Los Angeles area.  The only known organization in the County that focuses on children and families through the lens of the impact of the criminal justice system on their well-being, FOLA also provides services to their incarcerated and formerly incarcerated loved ones.

Having the longest-running employment program of its kind in the County, “Parole to Payroll,” FOLA was also the first organization in the County to co-locate its specialized employment services at a “One-Stop” Center, resulting in an increased number of resources available to both organizations’ clients, while reducing overhead costs for both entities.