Friday, October 5, 2007

CDCR Hosts Regional Workshop in Los Angeles County on Secure Community Reentry Facilities

Event held to educate local officials and stakeholders on new reforms

Los Angeles - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) hosted the ninth in a series of ten regional workshops today on Secure Community Reentry Facilities, a key component of recently signed legislation by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to reform California’s prison and jail systems. The workshop, held in downtown Los Angeles, included representatives from the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Compton, Whittier, Artesia, and Apple Valley to name some of the attendees.

“The Governor’s comprehensive corrections reforms aim to address severe inmate overcrowding at state prisons and local jails by funding new beds tied to rehabilitation, and creating secure reentry facilities in the local communities where inmates will be returning,” said James E. Tilton, CDCR Secretary. “Inmates too often leave prison with $200 minus the cost of a bus ticket, and no prospects for success once they return home. The goal of a secure community reentry facility is to ease the transition of local residents and improve public safety.”

“The State has made great strides at expanding partnerships and leading the charge to reduce recidivism. These reentry facilities will begin to address the missing pieces that have fostered the revolving door of recidivism. These reentry facilities must be designed according to the needs of the offenders as well as the needs of the community,” said Sheriff Lee Baca.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) has been a strong supporter of reentry and rehabilitation programs as evidenced in the creation of the Sheriff’s Department Correctional Services Division, which addresses these issues. The innovative efforts of the Sheriff’s Department have been used as a model in reentry and rehabilitation throughout the nation.

“Last year the CDCR and LASD Community Transition Unit collaborated in an effort to create a Reentry Council for Los Angeles County. This project is in full swing, and it’s partnerships like these that show how a leveraging of funds and a strong partnership can lead to a safer community”, said Sheriff Lee Baca.

“With California’s recidivism rate at a record high of 70%, it is in the best interest of the people that we work together to better prepare inmates for their reentry into the community,” said David Singer, Whittier Police Department Chief. “Inmates, upon release, are required by law to return to the county of their last legal residence, and as law enforcement officers, it is our duty to uphold the law and protect our community. The construction of these facilities allows us to provide inmates with the tools to become successful members of society.”

In May of this year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 900, the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, a historic prison reform agreement. Chief among the provisions of Assembly Bill 900 are funding for 16,000 beds in secure community reentry facilities.

Secure community reentry facilities will enable CDCR and local communities to create an unprecedented continuity of care to provide support services. Reentry facilities will be built in cities, counties or regions willing to partner with CDCR, to assist local residents who are required to be returned to the county where they committed their offense upon release.

These facilities will provide programs and services such as: Intensive substance abuse treatment; Vocational training and job placement; Education and GED coursework; Anger management classes; Family counseling; Housing placement; and,Targeted services to help ease the transition from incarceration to a crime-free life on the outside.

This regional workshop was the eighth in a series of nine statewide regional workshops that have been organized through October 12th, 2007. In addition, on July 16 CDCR hosted an online web seminar to discuss why community reentry facilities are important to public safety.

Invited participants to the regional workshops were local government officials, sheriffs, boards of supervisors, mayors, city council members, chief probation officers, mental health professionals, drug/alcohol professionals, county administrative officers, police chiefs, district attorneys, county public works, community-based agencies, victims’ advocates, chamber of commerce, legislators, and association representatives.

Participants attended workshops discussing parolee programming needs, jail construction funding, and standards for reentry facilities.

View photo gallery of this press release

For more information on secure reentry centers, and the Governor's focus on rehabilitation through the new reforms, please visit the CDCR website at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/PrisonReform.html