Hi, this is Kathy Jett, filling in for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with another California Report.
I'm the Director of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Division of Addiction and Recovery Services. The Governor has asked me to talk to you about the rehabilitation initiatives included in his prison reform plan.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed a landmark bill on Thursday to add 53,000 new prison and jail beds to our corrections system.
This new capacity will ease overcrowding and create the space we need to prepare inmates for their return to society after they have served their time.
As the Governor has said, it is unacceptable that California has the highest recidivism rate in the nation.
When we jam prisoners into giant warehouses in remote areas, public safety is threatened because many of the criminals come out more dangerous than when they went in.
More than 90 percent of our inmates will be eligible for parole, and the law says we must release them in their home communities. That's why 16,000 of the new beds will focus on intense rehabilitation in the months before a prisoner is released.
So instead of going straight from prison back to our streets, inmates will be housed in secure reentry facilities that are based in local communities, under new partnerships with local law enforcement officials and service providers.
The facilities will be fully functional, with programs such as education, job training and placement, and mental health and substance abuse counseling.
And inmates must demonstrate their commitment to rehabilitation, or they will be removed from the re-entry programs.
We have also set aside 4,000 beds that will be devoted to drug treatment.
These beds will reduce the harmful effects of addiction and cut into the massive costs of drug-related crimes.
Governor Schwarzenegger and I are excited about this giant step forward for corrections and rehabilitation in California.
We have addressed the dangerous levels of overcrowding while supplying the resources inmates need to be successful. And when inmates leave prison ready to make positive contributions to the community, we have improved public safety.
On behalf of Governor Schwarzenegger, I'm Kathy Jett. Thank you for listening.