About Diane Lefer

Diane Lefer's latest books include The Blessing Next to the Wound, nonfiction co-authored with Colombian exile Hector Aristizabal, and the crime novel, Nobody Wakes Up Pretty, which Edgar Award winner Domenic Stansberry describes as "sifting the ashes of America's endless class warfare," due out May 2012 from Rainstorm Press.

Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

When the Los Angeles Unified school board voted in May 2013 to ban the practice of suspending students for “willful defiance,” the blogosphere roiled with outrage. “Moron” was one of the mildest words used to attack school board president Monica Garcia and her colleagues. Students were referred to as thugs and animals, with black and Mexican American students singled out for particular abuse. Teachers said they wouldn’t be able to teach if they couldn’t remove disruptive students from the … [Read more...]

Children with Incarcerated Parents: Trauma, Toxic Stress, & Protection

magine that as you read these words, someone bursts into the room and holds a gun to your head. Your body and brain react instantly to the threat in ways that can be measured scientifically as cortisol floods your system. The same level of cortisol is found in young children when separated from a primary caregiver. That absence feels as life-threatening as a loaded gun, explained Ann Adalist Estrin, currently the Director of National Resource Center on Children of Incarcerated Parents. The … [Read more...]

Sheriff, Supervisors, and LA County’s Most Vulnerable

There have been more Popes elected than LA sheriffs in the last 80 years. his year, progressives need to choose carefully in the LA County June election. Not only will we be voting for sheriff but will also fill the supervisory seats currently held by Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavky in the First and Third Districts. There may be low turnout and low interest for these contests but at the March 13 general meeting of the LA Regional Reentry Partnership–"LARRP"– I learned why these offices matter … [Read more...]

Better Outcomes for Juveniles — Maybe

Monday evening, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 260 into law, making it possible for prisoners who received extreme sentences as juveniles to have their sentences reviewed and perhaps reduced after serving ten years. The news brought happy tears to my eyes. Three years ago, I was in the courtroom when Tedi Snyder was sentenced 32-years-to-life following an incident in which no one was killed and for which Tedi was never convicted of being the shooter. The crime occurred months after this … [Read more...]

From State Prison to LA County: Ready or Not

As I write this Saturday morning, thousands of California prison inmates enter their fifth day of hunger strike to protest -- among other abuses -- long-term solitary confinement, otherwise known in the US and around the world as torture. Even after the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) threatened retaliatory disciplinary action, more than 7,000 persisted in refusing all sustenance. I'm thinking of those brothers and sister even as I try to make sense of the … [Read more...]