Long Beach
Innovation Team

411 West Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802
City of Long Beach Awarded up to $1 Million to Disrupt the Cycle of Incarceration
Tracy Colunga, Director, Innovation Team, City Manager’s Office

The City of Long Beach has received two grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation totaling up to $1 million to fund the Long Beach Justice Lab. The City launched a first-of-its-kind lab to provide new tools to first responders to divert residents in need out of the criminal justice system and toward resources like treatment and care. 

“The City of Long Beach is working to create innovative solutions to help those stuck in our justice system start new lives,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We are grateful for the support that the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has provided to help the City of Long Beach move forward with the Justice Lab.”

The Justice Lab was developed through a partnership between the City’s Innovation Team, or “i-team,” and the Long Beach Public Safety Continuum. The Continuum consists of Police, Fire, Health, and Development Services departments; the City Prosecutor’s Office; neighborhood associations; nonprofits; and residents who work collaboratively to make Long Beach a better and safer place.  

The first grant from the Arnold Foundation funds implementation of two critical initiatives as part of the Justice Lab—the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and Data Mart. The MDT convenes City and County service providers to better coordinate and make it easier for residents to access mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and homeless services. Data Mart is part of the City’s Data Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative that will bring multiple data sets together to cross-check information from the Police, Health, and Fire departments, as well as the City Prosecutor’s Office, and other departments, to coordinate wraparound services and provide residents with more comprehensive, appropriate care that can help them get their lives back on track.

With the second grant, the i-team, in collaboration with California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will conduct a feasibility study and Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of the MDT's team-based method of service planning and care management for people who frequently come into contact with police officers and other first responders. 

The DDJ Initiative consists of over 140 cities and counties working collectively to disrupt the cycle of incarceration by bringing together data across criminal justice and health systems. The Arnold Foundation is working to address the connections between mental illness, substance use disorder, and incarcerations through data driven justice.

“Our mission is Public Safety Through Partnerships,” said Police Chief Robert Luna. “Through our Public Safety Continuum, which is a well-developed collaboration between departments, we will help stabilize individuals and families allowing us to better serve our community.”

“The i-team created the Justice Lab for the benefit of our entire community,” said i-team Director Tracy Colunga. “Receiving the support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation allows the City to better serve people in need of care and support.”

After analyzing over 100,000 offenses in Long Beach during a five-year period, the i-team determined that 85% of repeat offenses are not serious crimes, but rather low-level misdemeanors. First responders like police officers and firefighters until now have had few tools to help individuals in need, who often wind up in a deepening cycle of arrest and incarceration. 

About the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

The core objective of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) is to improve the lives of individuals by strengthening our social, governmental, and economic systems. Its investments are focused on criminal justice, education, health care, government improvement, and several other key areas. LJAF has offices in Houston, New York, and Washington D.C. For more information about Frequent Utilizers and LJAF’s work to address this issue, please see “Modern Justice: Using Data to Reinvent America’s Crisis Response Systems” or the report summary.

About Long Beach Innovation Team (i-team)

Now working in more than 20 cities across four countries, the Innovation Teams Program helps cities solve problems in new ways to deliver better results for residents. Bloomberg Philanthropies awards cities multi-year grants to create in-house innovation teams, or “i-teams,” which offer cities a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively and tackle critical challenges—from reducing crime to revitalizing neighborhoods to strengthening the growth of small businesses.

Launched in 2015 by Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach’s i-team works closely and supportively with their colleagues across city government. In partnership with these colleagues, the i-team aims to deeply understand the problem they are trying to solve by building empathy for the people impacted by it and then work quickly and creatively to co-create and test solutions that deliver meaningful results for residents. The i-team is currently working on its Public Safety priority after focusing on  Economic Development. Initiatives from the first priority continues to drive investments of City departments and its partners. After a detailed examination of the challenge area, the solutions proposed included: BizPort, Inspector Gadget, Hubs and Spaces, Business Navigators, and the Economic Development Blueprint. These and other solutions are currently at various stages of implementation by the Economic Department.

For more information on the City of Long Beach Innovation Team, please visit www.longbeach.gov/iteam or follow them on Twitter @iteam_LongBeach and Facebook.