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Morning Brief: Second Chances, Uncertainty In District 10, And Boyle Heights’ Most Haunted

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A photocollage featuring Allen Burnett, who earned his bachelor's degree at Lancaster state prison, and a recent graduation at the facility.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Oct. 29.

Hope is a valuable commodity these days, whether it has to do with climate change, the pandemic, or something else altogether. But for some California inmates, programs offering college degrees are providing a chance at a brighter future, just when things look grim. 

Throughout the state, universities including Cal State L.A., Pitzer College and UC Irvine have implemented, or will soon implement, pathways for incarcerated folks to work towards bachelor’s degrees. They’re similar to existing opportunities for associate’s degrees, but offer more in-depth learning and the chance to go on to a graduate degree.

While postsecondary education for inmates isn’t a new concept in the U.S., paying for it is a massive barrier. That’s changing, though, thanks to a federal program that allows people in prison to apply for certain types of financial aid. 

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For some men who’ve completed Cal State L.A.’s program at the California State Prison in Lancaster, the program didn’t just teach them a new set of skills; it opened their eyes to a new side of themselves.

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“The transformative power of information, of what I received in those classrooms, it struck something in me so deep that I began to change my whole behavior,” said Allen Burnett, who graduated last summer. “I walked different. I slept different. I thought different ... And I began to develop a voice and a language to express what it feels like to have life without parole, what it feels like to be a human being, and what it means to take accountability, responsibility, regret and remorse for the harm that I caused.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • L.A. County’s Inspector General is looking into allegations of racial discrimination on high school campuses in the Antelope Valley, which were raised by a joint LAist-ProPublica investigation.
  • A Korean American member of the Irvine City Council was verbally attacked for her race by a member of the public at Tuesday night’s meeting.
  • There's a lot of uncertainty over who will look after the constituents in L.A.'s Council District 10 after the City Council voted to suspend Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been indicted on federal bribery charges.
  • A jury awarded $17 million to the family of Kenneth French, who was fatally shot by an off-duty LAPD officer in a Corona Costco.
  • The East L.A. Classic, a decades-old rivalry between the football teams of Roosevelt High School and Garfield High School, will resume tonight.

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

One of the country’s worst massacres of Chinese people happened in L.A., and activists want the city to remember. (LAist)

Food-shaped restaurants — like the newly reopened Tail o' the Pup — have a long and glorious history in L.A. (LAist)

Belcampo, the popular yet scandal-ridden high-end meat purveyor, finally said goodbye for good. (LAist)

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In the wake of the on-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, many people in and out of the film industry are wondering just how common such tragedies are. (NPR)

Looking to celebrate Día de los Muertos? Look no further than this comprehensive guide. (L.A. Taco)

Santa Clarita is now home to some delicious new restaurants. (LAist)

Stan Natchez, an artist from San Fernando, has gifted the city with a mural titled “Guernica to Home.” (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Before You Go ... This Weekend's Outdoor Pick: Boyle Heights' Most Haunted

a tiled sign reads "Linda Vista Community Hospital" and leads to a five-story, white building
An exterior view of the Linda Vista Community Hospital in Boyle Heights on May 10, 2012.
AFP via Getty Images)

On Saturday night, Shmuel Gonzales (the Barrio Boychik), a sixth-generation local, historian and community organizer, leads a ghost story and haunted history tour of Boyle Heights. Stops include Linda Vista Hospital, The Sanatorium and Orphans Home, Hollenbeck Park, Shrere Synagogue and the Japanese Hospital.

Or, you could: Timewarp (again) into a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. See Moses Sumney play two nights under the stars. Watch Get Out and a live-to-film version of Nightmare Before Christmas starring Billie Eilish. And more.

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