Ricca Prasad: Leveraging Her Public Health and Legal Skills

Ricca Prasad, Public Interest Scholar at the USC Gould School of Law in her second year, considers herself fortunate to be able to combine her dual background in law and public health to advocate for incarcerated women.   Prior to law school, Ricca earned her Master of Public Health (MPH) from George Washington University. With her legal, academic and public policy background, she was easily hired to work as an intern for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law as its Mira Loma Women’s Jail Project Assistant (now known as the Women’s Gender-Responsive Jail Project).  Rising to a formidable challenge, Ricca faced unchartered waters in June 2018 to examine the County’s planned move of 2,000 women inmates to a remote location and ended up with an encompassing report entitled Lynwood to Lancaster: Opportunities and Challenges for the Women’s Jail Relocation.

She continues to work on the Jail Project following through on the report’s recommendations. She represents the Center at the LA County Sheriff’s Gender Responsive Advisory Committee (GRAC) formed to create a more appropriate and beneficial system for women who face incarceration and leads its Visitation Subcommittee addressing how children and families maintain ties during incarceration. She testified at the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting supporting the reconsideration of the jail’s relocation. Speaking on behalf of the Center, her objections were based on the obstacles of its location for family reunification. The Board subsequently shelved the relocation pending further planning to assess other options.

 “I believe that there is there is widespread agreement among the County Board of Supervisors policy makers and Sheriff Department law enforcement officials that Ricca’s work has been seminal in documenting and fully examining the problems raised by the Mira Loma move.  Her work has been invaluable,” says Betty Nordwind, the Center’s Executive Director and Ricca’s supervisor.