Friday, October 12, 2007

CDCR Hosts Regional Workshop in Downtown Santa Barbara for Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties on Secure Community Reentry Facilities

Event held to educate local officials and stakeholders on new reforms
Santa Barbara - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) hosted the tenth and final in a series of 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 Santa Barbara, included representatives from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

“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 Marisela Montes, CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary, Adult Programs. “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.”

“By law, inmates are returned to their county of last legal residence. In practice, offenders come back to local cities and towns whether they’re rehabilitated or not. It is in the public’s interest to give these returning residents the tools to be law-abiding citizens,” said Sheriff Bob Brooks, Ventura County. “This county has a vital interest in partnering with the state to improve our process for transitioning our residents back home, and exploring the use of secure community reentry facilities.”

”The number-one concern of the public is neighborhood safety,” said Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long. “The public expects their elected leaders to provide safe communities. The transition services for parolees to return them to the community must provide job training, counseling and other services so that certain inmates can successfully re-enter and integrate into society as productive and contributing individuals. Such services not only enhance public safety and improve our communities, but also save taxpayers' dollars in the long term."

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 final in a series of 10 statewide regional workshops that have been organized since July 30. 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.

For more information on secure reentry centers, and the Governor's focus on rehabilitation through the new reforms, please visit the CDCR website at: