About Diane Lefer

Diane Lefer's books include The Blessing Next to the Wound: A Story of Art, Activism, and Transformation, co-authored with Colombian exile and torture survivor Hector Aristizábal; the crime novel Nobody Wakes Up Pretty, described by Edgar Award winner Domenic Stansberry as "sifting the ashes of America's endless class warfare" and, most recently, her historical novel The Fiery Alphabet, which tells a woman's adventurous life-story against the backdrop of the 18th-century tension between Enlightenment values and religious faith.
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Serving the Women Who Served

women-veterans-600

Diane Lefer: A high percentage of homeless women vets suffer from Military Sexual Trauma or are survivors of domestic violence. Because male veterans so outnumber females, a woman may find herself alone and isolated in the settings intended to help her.

Sheriff, Supervisors, and LA County’s Most Vulnerable

la county sheriff election

LA County June election: We need to know which candidates are ready to take ethical, rational approaches to homelessness, reentry.

More Diversion, Fewer Detention Sentences for LA Juveniles

Kruti-Parekh

Diane Lefer: Whether dealing with youthful or adult offenders, Powers reiterated how important it is to start educational and rehabilitative programs to build learning into a daily routine when the person is still inside.

Restorative Justice in Los Angeles Schools

Restorative Justice LA Schools

Diane Lefer: Full implementation of restorative justice will take years but LAUSD hopes to be a model for the nation in creating an educational climate in which students feel like valued members of the school community – open to learning academic subjects and life lessons in a way that is nurturing, respectful, and humane.

From State Prison to LA County: Ready or Not

cdc hunger strike

Diane Lefer: There are angels among us. They understand that men and women who’ve been granted a second chance need something more: They need to be welcomed home.

Unlikely Friends: When Victims and Perpetrators Meet

unlikely friends

Diane Lefer: Punishment alone–though necessary and often satisfying–will not repair damage or help victims move forward with their lives. Restorative justice brings offenders and victims together to provide a chance for perpetrators to make amends and to promote social and individual healing.

Women Veterans: Celebrating Service and Fighting for Change

rock the vets

Diane Lefer: Keynote speaker, Brigadier General (Ret) Ruth Wong, and the many highly motivated women in attendance were living examples of the positive strengths and attributes employers can find in women vets.

Torture Survivors Express on Stage – Feb 26th & 27th

torture battered woman

Diane Lefer: Torture Survivors Express on Stage – with Hector Aristizabal and Alessia Cartoni, we’ve been creating a Theater of Witness play entitled, “We Are Here” with torture survivors who live in LA County

Teen Dating Violence: A V-Day Panel

Dating Violence

Diane Lefer: Altogether, too many teen relationships–Giggans cited an estimate of 25-30%– involve coercive control. And if you think it doesn’t apply in your home because your kid doesn’t date, think again.

What Happens in Bogotá Doesn’t Stay in Bogotá

Jorge Parra

Diane Lefer: Local dealerships don’t determine corporate policy but they also don’t answer to GM shareholders or benefit from CEO compensation packages. It seemed they would instead be concerned with any bad publicity that could tarnish the Chevrolet brand.

Graduate Them, Don’t Incarcerate Them!

russlyn Ali

Diane Lefer: Los Angeles Unified School District has cut suspension rates in half, in part thanks to a new policy that was adopted after tireless advocacy by community groups

Understanding the (Untapped) Power of Women

Madeline di Nonno

Power of Women hen you walk into a room and fewer than 50% of the people there are women, “it should look peculiar,” said Madeline Di Nonno, executive director of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “and it doesn’t.” Marianne Williamson, in her lead-up to the upcoming November conference: SISTER GIANT: Women, Non-Violence [...]

Health Care Reform: California’s Next Steps

Susan-Berke-Fogel-wide

Diane Lefer: With the general practitioner or family practice doctor now a vanishing breed, yes we could and should put in place incentives to encourage more medical students to go into the field. But we also need to address the problem without delay.

How Progressives Can (and Must) Lobby for Social Change

serene josel

Diane Lefer: Citizen lobbying is most effective when the decision maker can see you face-to-face (in their district or Capitol office or at a town hall meeting) or at least hear your voice on the phone.

Culver City to the Inglewood Oil Fields: Frack You!

fracking not healthy

Diane Lefer: If the seven planned meetings help build a movement, the voices of so many citizens may help the legislature and governor find the political will to resist oil industry demands.

Working Smarter to Save Workers’ Lives

maria elena durazo

Diane Lefer: Employment-related death, disability, and illness exact a high toll not only on workers and their families, but on business and the economy as a whole.

Mass Incarceration: Points of Agreement on the Right and the Left

susan burton

Diane Lefer: When a community sees daily injustice and doesn’t see the rule of law equally applied, it becomes morally and ethically easier to choose to live in a lawless way.

Seeking Unity Across Sex, Race & Class

Selma-James-wide

Diane Lefer: All women, she said, should be able to give their children what no one else can give, to have the right to stay home, if they want to, with their children up to the age of two or three without suffering loss of needed income.

Coca: One More Thing US Drugs Policy Gets Wrong

coca offering

Diane Lefer: In Bolivia, as in much of the Andes, people understand that coca leaves are not the same as cocaine. The leaves, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, are used for tea, in candies, in flour for baking cakes, as an anaesthetic, and in beverages.

Reckoning with Torture

Julie Gutman

Diane Lefer: Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Some are guilty, but all are responsible.” Why? Because when we are aware of bad things that happen, we have a role in fixing them.

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Should Your Job Kill You?

Angela Alvarez, a lead organizer with the Workers Health Program of IDEPSCA (Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California)

Diane Lefer: Given our economic woes and high unemployment, the importance of advocacy groups and community organizations becomes very clear. Without support and backup, workers are less likely to demand their rights and risk retaliation at the very time when employers want to cut corners

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Colombia: Women in the Crossfire

army faith in the cause

Diane Lefer: Women are not the only ones to suffer in six decades of armed conflict in Colombia but they, along with the children, have borne the brunt of displacement as some five million Colombians have been violently driven from their homes.

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Why the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia Is Still a Bad Idea

columbia nafta protest

Diane Lefer: The Uribe administration seemed more interested in catering to foreign investors than in protecting the environment. Under Santos, there are signs of change but this welcome shift is threatened by passage of the FTA.

The New Jim Crow: Our Role in Incarceration Nation

Michelle Alexander

Diane Lefer: Judge Gray referred to Senator Jim Webb of Virginia who, in looking at the entire criminal justice system in which we hold the world record for the number of people incarcerated, concluded either we are the most evil people in the world or we are doing something seriously wrong.

A Fair for What’s Fair

Madelyn Broadus

Diane Lefer: I get it now: When public education works, it’s transformative of the individual and of society. Maybe that’s why it’s under attack.

Save Money! Stay Healthy!

710 freeway

Diane Lefer: Once people understand we all face some built-in obstacles to healthy living, it’s easier to understand the kid who lives where the air is toxic and there are no parks and no safe places to walk and no access to transportation to go anywhere else.

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One More Chance for Youth

Youth Justice Coalition

Diane Lefer: Youth in life without parole cases are often acting under the influence of an adult. In nearly 70 percent of California LWOP cases in which the youth was not acting alone, at least one codefendant was an adult.

Lethal Injustice

death-penalty-wide

Diane Lefer: The death penalty means “the State can kill you as long as they give you a trial. The State doesn’t say your lawyer has to be awake.

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Behind the Kitchen Door

FOC-LA Staff

Diane Lefer: A comment last week on an LA Times blog argued that “working in a restaurant is not supposed to provide a ‘living wage’. It’s a job that teenagers and students use to get started in life.” Not so according to ROC-LA co-coordinator Cathy Dang who reported that nationwide, people tend to stay in the industry for a lifetime.

Health Care as a Human Right — in South LA and Nationwide

deadly spin

Diane Lefer: In South LA, the pressures of gentrification and loss of income now have two and three families sharing apartments that would be a tight squeeze for one. Even so-called “affordable housing,” is beyond the reach of most when you consider that Los Angeles considers a living wage to be $12/hour.

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