The Justice Equity Services Index (JESI) identifies L.A. County’s justice-related community-based supports and services in low to highest service areas to inform where to shift investments and capacity-building supports towards equity and justice.
The Justice Equity Services Index (JESI) Origin Story
L.A. County voters and residents have spoken – our leaders must act boldly to overhaul our systems to deliver true justice, equity, and wellbeing in all our communities.
For years, the Justice Equity Need Index (JENI) has mapped out those communities in L.A. County most negatively impacted by criminalization and detention-first policies. The JENI identifies areas that need quality supportive services and funding to make them possible. However, the lack of spatial data on the relevant service landscape necessary to chart a “care-first” approach stymied implementation efforts. Catalyst California, in collaboration with partners, has released the first-ever Justice Equity Services Index (JESI), providing policymakers and advocates with the ability to detect where there are greater or fewer community-based organizations providing the vital services needed to support the communities most impacted by our justice system. With the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic felt deeply in our highest-need neighborhoods, we need these equitable services and supports in communities most impacted by the criminal justice system now more than ever.
The JESI was made meaningful by the many local justice advocates and service providers who generously lent their invaluable wisdom to build and hone the tool in a series of focus groups. Engaging Los Angeles County’s wealth of community-oriented experts significantly improved the JESI; simultaneously, it underlined the ongoing, essential benefit of centering individuals with local knowledge and direct experience at all phases in the transition toward a care-first county – and making it a successful transformation.
Why JESI Matters
Before the development of the JESI, policymakers, and advocates only had anecdotal and lived-experience insights to assess the local landscape of community-based providers with the capacity and financial support to provide intervention, prevention, and reentry services at scale in their local community, which we consider as the community-based system of care.
Without such comprehensive, spatially-oriented data, it is difficult for policymakers and advocates to determine how to best direct and allocate critical service funding to where it is most needed according to the JENI – let alone determine the impact those allocations have over time.
Moreover, with the L.A. County Board’s adoption of the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) Initiative, voters’ passage of Measure J, and the Board’s commitment to close Men’s Central Jail – now, more than ever, policymakers and advocates require quality information to detect where the need for care is most pronounced and what the corresponding community-based service supply is to fulfill a promise to move towards a “care-first, jails last” approach.
What You Can Do With the JESI
- Identify the highest need areas – utilizing the Justice Equity Need Index (JENI) – and then cross-reference those areas with the JESI to begin targeting greater investments, capacity-building supports, and to build connections among local community-based organizations.
- Take a deeper look at the diversity of justice-related, care-first levels of service capacity by ZIP Code broken down into four unique component areas: Health and Wellness, Housing and Employment, Prevention and Intervention, Community Services and Advocacy.
- Use the JESI’s maps and downloadable data to examine the existing community-based system of care in your community and to identify those areas in need of greater investment, capacity-building support, and/or connection.
Justice-Related, Care-First Services Explained
To best track and make sense of the broad range of services across L.A. County, the JESI splits justice-related, care-first providers into different categories based on their self-identified primary activity. These categories were determined based on community-based partners’ input on the most vital services that communities and individuals, who have been historically impacted by systemic underinvestment and the burden of the criminal justice system, need to thrive. We then grouped these service types into four main components to align with the broader service spectrum embraced by initiatives such as Measure J and the ATI Initiative, they include:
- Health & Wellness, including behavioral and physical health and wellbeing services.
- Housing & Employment, including housing, shelter, employment, and career training services.
- Prevention & Intervention, including prevention, reentry, and youth development services.
- Community Services & Advocacy, including human services, advocacy, and community action services.
The JESI offers advocates a comprehensive picture of community-based, justice-related, care-first providers and their functions in L.A. County. Each JESI component also includes a unique score and map to give a more nuanced view of where there is greater or lesser service capacity for each essential justice-related service.
- The level of justice-related, care-first services varies by region in Los Angeles County. For example, parts of the Antelope Valley, East Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, South Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley have concentrations of ZIP Codes within the Lowest or Low Service Level on the JESI with the Antelope Valley, East Los Angeles, and Southeast Los Angeles having some of the lowest levels of services.
- Service levels across the county vary by JESI components. Some regions have greater access to certain types of justice-related and care-first services and lower access to other types. For instance, a large portion of the Antelope Valley has Low to Lowest Service Levels on the Health & Wellness component compared to parts of the Antelope Valley having High to Highest Service Levels on the Housing & Employment component. Metro and West Los Angeles are two regions with a large concentration of Highest or High Service level ZIP Codes across most JESI components.
- The relationship between service levels and justice-equity need levels varies by region in the county, with some regions having a better match between services and needs. While Metro, the South Bay, and West Los Angeles see a greater share of their Highest or High Need JENI ZIP Codes having Highest or High JESI Service Levels, the Antelope Valley, East Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley, and the San Fernando Valley have a higher share of their Highest or High Need JENI ZIP Codes with Lowest or Low JESI Service Levels.
- The Los Angeles County justice-related, care-first service landscape is comprised mostly of smaller organizations with incomes less than $500,000. Organizations in the Highest or High Need communities are also comprised of these smaller organizations, suggesting that organizations in our high need communities typically are not large enough to meet the greater need.
The map below shows each ZIP Code’s final score on the JESI from Lowest to Highest Service Level. Each ZIP Code’s final JESI score is based on averaging its four component scores and assigning a final percentile value from 0 to 100, with 100 being the overall highest level of services. On the map, the ZIP Codes with the Highest Service Levels, or the top 80th to 100th percentile of service levels, are shown in dark purple and the ZIP Codes with the Lowest Service Levels, or the lowest 0 to 19th percentile of service levels, in light purple. To demonstrate how service levels do not always match to levels of need, we highlight in red the ZIP Codes with the High or Highest Justice Equity Need Index (JENI 2019) levels. Light purple areas on the map that also have a red outline signify areas with Lowest JESI Service Levels but Highest or High JENI Need Levels, meaning there are potentially too few services in these areas to meet demand.
Use the map to identify ZIP Codes in greater need of capacity building and support to meet their communities’ needs. Click on a ZIP Code to find out more about each ZIP Code’s level of services overall on the JESI and by component. Click different layers on and off in the left corner of the map to see how ZIP Code Service Levels vary by Supervisorial District and Service Planning Area.
Copy and paste code to embed map on your own website:
Copy and paste code to embed map on your own website: <iframe src=”https://www.healthycity.org/pages/jesi_2021/Figure1_JESI_Map_wVky033.html” width=”100%” height=”700″ frameborder=”0″></iframe>
To interact more with the data and download the complete set of JESI scores by ZIP Code, jump to our Methodology section.
JESI Component Results
Each of JESI’s four components can be used to understand the distribution of justice-related services in the county to ensure our Highest Need communities have the appropriate wealth and diversity of services available.
The maps below show each ZIP Code’s score on each JESI component. A ZIP Code’s component score is based on the number of organizations located in the ZIP Code that fall under that component, the income or size of those organizations, and the ZIP Code’s population. Component scores range from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the overall highest level of services.
On each map, the ZIP Codes with the Highest Service Levels, or the top 80th to 100th percentile of service levels, are shown in darker colors and the ZIP Codes with the Lowest Service Levels, or the 0 to 19th percentile of service levels, in lighter colors. To demonstrate how service levels do not always match to levels of need, we highlight in red the ZIP Codes with the High or Highest Justice Equity Need Index (JENI 2019) levels. Lighter color areas on the maps that also have red outlines signify areas with Lowest Service Levels in that component but Highest or High JENI Need Levels, meaning there are potentially too few services in that component to meet demand in these areas.
Click between the tabs to see how service distribution varies by component in L.A. County and to identify ZIP Codes in greater need of capacity building and support to meet their communities’ needs. Click on a ZIP Code to find out more about each ZIP Code’s level of services. Click different layers on and off in the left corner of the map to see how ZIP Code Service Levels vary by Supervisorial District and Service Planning Area.
Justice Equity Services Index (JESI) Component Results
Copy and paste code to embed map on your own website: <iframe src=”https://www.healthycity.org/pages/jesi_2021/Figure2_Components_Map_sNYcPtC.html” width=”100%” height=”750″ frameborder=”0″></iframe>
To interact more with the data and download the complete set of JESI and Component scores by ZIP Code, jump to our Methodology section.
Call to Action
The people closest to the problem are closest to the solution:
- The JENI pinpointed and validated what advocates and policymakers had long identified — where the need for services exists and where investments should be concentrated across the County. The JESI presents the opportunity for advocates and policymakers to further target investments by measuring the level of justice-related, community-based providers in each community, providing a data-driven tool to guide investments and supports where they are needed most.
- In tandem with the JENI, the JESI can support the local service provider base by revealing what types of services are in the shortest supply in an area and begin to identify the types of supports and services a community may require, such as the incubation of new providers, expanding the reach of current providers, and or coordinating existing providers to match the levels of need in a community.
- The JENI and the JESI provide policymakers and advocates with a starting point to evaluate the progress made on reducing the levels of people encountering the incarceration system and interrogate and evaluate the services provided across the spectrum of justice-related and care-first services.
- The County has an opportunity to set the bar at a national and international level for how to transition away from a carceral-first approach to a care-first model. The JESI provides policymakers and advocates with a roadmap to begin the process of equitably building out a system of care infrastructure.
JESI Data and Methodology
The table below includes each ZIP Code’s overall ranking, percentile score, and service level on the JESI and the JESI’s four components. We also include the raw counts of organizations in each ZIP Code by component—which is just one factor used in JESI component scores.
Use the search bar to find a particular ZIP Code, the up and down arrows to sort the table, and the boxes underneath each column header to filter the data. Or, click on your preferred file format to download the whole data table. Depending on your device, you may need to scroll left and right to view all columns.
The Justice Equity Services Index (JESI) relies on a combination of data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), American Community Survey (ACS), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The following details our methodology for generating a list of tax-exempt organizations for the JESI, calculating ZIP Code population, and calculating a JESI score using income weights and components.
For more information about our Justice Equity Need Index (JENI), please visit our JENI page. We will update our JESI and JENI pages as new data become available.
Defining Justice-Related Services and JESI Components
To create a comprehensive list of justice-related service organizations, we combine data on the location, primary activity, filing status, and income of exempt organizations in Los Angeles County. We primarily rely on data about tax-exempt organizations published monthly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To arrive at the most relevant justice-related, care-first organizations, we filter the large list of exempt organizations in the IRS data based on three criteria:
- Organizations whose primary activity is justice-related or care-first: Collaborating with community-based and county partners, we reviewed the IRS’ National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) coding system, which identifies an organization’s primary exempt activity, to narrow the number of exempt organizations to those carrying out activities most relevant to the JESI. Based on feedback from external partners and justice service experts, we selected the most relevant service types, separated them into eight JESI service categories, and then grouped them into our four JESI components. We exclude law enforcement-affiliated service organizations (i.e. youth sports leagues). The table below lists the NTEE Codes included in the JESI and the JESI component assigned to each.
- 501(c)3 organizations required to file a 990, except private foundations: We focus on public charities or 501(c)3 organizations that deliver services. We exclude private foundations that are required to file a 990-PF return, and instead only include organizations required to file a 990EZ, 990N, or 990 Group return.
- Active organizations that have filed in the past three years: To ensure the JESI reflects active organizations, we only include organizations that have filed in the past three years.
The table below includes a full list of the primary service activities, or NTEE codes, we include in the JESI and each JESI component and the number of organizations that fall into each category.
While data from the IRS provides the most detailed, comprehensive data on service organizations in L.A. County, it includes limitations that should be considered when reviewing the JESI. The IRS data does not include county-operated services or programs and does not provide information on organizations’ service areas. An organization may be headquartered in a particular ZIP Code but may service a larger area. An additional limitation relying on ZIP Codes is that some ZIP Codes may be more heavily residential, meaning there are fewer areas to locate a business, artificially depressing their counts. Even with these limitations, if we see a concentration of neighboring ZIP Codes with low service levels or regional differences in service distribution, there is likely a shortage of accessible organizations in the area.
Data on primary exempt activity and income are also missing for a share of organizations. Organizations with incomes less than $25,000 are not required to file financial information, which means we lack data on their size. These organizations receive an income weight of one in our index. Previous literature also indicates some organizations struggle to accurately report their financial information. We account for this by using income categories rather than exact dollar amounts. Additionally, a large share of organizations fail to include a primary exempt activity in their registration with the IRS. We exclude these organizations from our analysis, but these may include other organizations important to the justice-service landscape. Lastly, we have heard repeatedly from our community-based partners about the number of organizations operating in high-need communities that are not registered with the IRS. These often smaller organizations that are vital to the service landscape for high-need communities are not captured in the JESI.
Calculating ZIP Code Population
We rely on ZIP Code boundaries published by the Los Angeles County Internal Services Department and the City of Los Angeles’ Geohub. While the U.S. Census Bureau publishes population data for ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs), which are often used as a proxy for ZIP Codes, these do not always align with United States Postal Service (USPS) ZIP Codes. We use data from HUD’s USPS ZIP Code crosswalk files which accounts for residential and business address patterns to allocate the share of addresses in each census tract crossing into USPS ZIP Codes. We calculate ZIP Code population estimates by multiplying each census tract’s population by the share of its residential addresses in each ZIP Code. We exclude PO Boxes, other than PO Boxes servicing Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands.
Calculating the JESI
To arrive at final JESI scores by ZIP Code, we first calculate the JESI’s four individual component scores, and then combine these component scores into a final JESI score. Individual component scores by ZIP Code are calculated by summing the count of organizations in each component by ZIP Code, applying an income weight to give a greater sum to ZIP Codes with larger organizations, and then dividing this weighted sum by ZIP Code population. We weight each organization by four income categories based on preset categories in the IRS data:
- $0 to $499,999
- $500,000 to $999,999
- $1,000,000 to $4,999,999
- $5,000,000 or greater
After arriving at a weighted sum of the number of organizations, that is adjusted for population, within each component per ZIP Code, each ZIP Code is then ranked from highest to lowest level of services per component and assigned a percentile value from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest level of services. The four individual JESI components are:
- Health & Wellness, including Behavioral Health and Physical Health & Wellbeing services
- Housing & Employment, including Housing & Shelter and Employment & Career Training services
- Prevention & Intervention, including Prevention & Reentry and Youth Development services
- Community Services & Advocacy, including Human Services and Advocacy & Community Action services
A final JESI score is calculated by averaging the four component percentiles and assigning a final percentile value from 0 to 100, with 100 being the overall highest level of services. Finally, we split ZIP Codes into five service level categories–Highest, High, Moderate, Low, and Lowest–based on their percentile scores. ZIP Codes within the top 20% of service levels are assigned the Highest Service Level category whereas ZIP Codes with the bottom or lowest 20% of service levels are assigned the Lowest Service Level category. ZIP Codes with a population less than 500 are excluded. If a ZIP Code has no record of any organizations in a particular category, we assume they have 0 organizations of that type.
Internal Revenue Services, 2021, Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-business-master-file-extract-eo-bmf.
U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-19, American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates. Retrieved from https://data.census.gov/cedsci/.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Q4 2020, USPS ZIP Code Crosswalk Files. Retrieved from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/usps_crosswalk.html.
ZIP Code Boundaries
Los Angeles County Internal Services Department, October 2020, L.A. County ZIP Code. Retrieved from https://hub.arcgis.com/datasets/lacounty::la-county-zip-code.
Los Angeles Times, 2010, L.A. County Neighborhoods. Retrieved from https://boundaries.latimes.com/sets/.
Supervisorial District Boundaries
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, 2011, Supervisorial Districts. Retrieved from https://geohub.lacity.org/.
Service Planning Area Boundaries
Los Angeles County Internal Services Department, 2011, L.A. County Service Planning Areas. Retrieved from https://egis-lacounty.hub.arcgis.com/datasets/la-county-service-planning-area.
Be Sure to Check Out the Complementary Justice Equity Need Index
The Justice Equity Need Index (JENI) sprang from a collective recognition that L.A. County lacked a rigorous, data-driven model to map out its stark geographies of system-impacted communities. As race underlies many of the criminal justice system’s inequities, it is a crucial component in the JENI. This spatial impact information, in turn, identifies where prevention, diversion, and reentry supportive services—and, vitally, the funding to make it all possible—should be directed to make the most significant, most equitable impact.
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