Over 800 local law enforcement, elected officials and stakeholders attended informational workshops and provided input on the Governor’s prison reforms
SACRAMENTO – Regional workshops held over the last four months on secure community reentry facilities created under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comprehensive prison reform legislation engaged over 800 officials from all 58 counties, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reported today. CDCR Undersecretary for Adult Programs Kathy Jett summarized the goal of secure community reentry facilities and the success of these workshops to the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board (C-ROB) this morning during a board meeting at the Sacramento Convention Center.
"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 Undersecretary Jett. “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 Governor’s prison reforms fund 16,000 beds in secure community reentry facilities, which will house a maximum of 500 inmates and be located in the county where an inmate is legally required to be returned. Jett also spoke of the importance of having local communities participate in the process, since only those counties that apply for and cite a location will be considered to house a secure community reentry facility.
“The new model for Secure Community Reentry Facilities is one that will take an unprecedented amount of coordination between the state and local law enforcement, elected officials and stakeholders if it is to be successful. After meeting with all 58 counties, I am very confident that we can build the partnerships necessary to improve the way we transition inmates who are returning home so that they can be successful upon release,” said Undersecretary Jett. “The fact that so many local communities are becoming engaged in the reentry process is an optimistic sign that we can enact positive change to increase public safety.”
From July through October 2007 CDCR joined with the California State Sheriffs Association, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities, the Chief Probation Officers Association, the California Mental Health Directors Association, the County Alcohol & Drug Program Administrators Association of California, and the Association of California Cities Allied with Prisons to conduct a statewide informational campaign on the benefits and responsibilities of bringing Secure Community Reentry Facilities into local communities.
The workshops were meant to educate, inform, and receive feedback from all 58 counties on the reentry facilities and jail construction funding - the centerpiece of the Governor’s prison reform legislation, AB 900. Approximately 800 local law enforcement, government officials, and stakeholders attended at these workshops. Each workshop received very positive feedback from the locals, and many communities took the next step of signing agreements to cooperate with the state to cite a facility. Input by the attendees from the workshops is being used by CDCR executive management to make policy decisions as the CDCR moves forward with the development of reentry facilities.
Following are some quotes from attendees at the workshops from press releases and media covering the events:
“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 Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. “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.” CDCR Press Release, Oct. 5, 2007
Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Marvin Cavanaugh said he believes the time has come to look at giving pre-release inmates tools to survive in the real world. - "We are now at the brink where re-entry programs ... are exactly the right thing to do," he said.
Honig, Robert. “Inmate Reentry Facility Proposed.” Pasadena Star News. Oct. 6, 2007.
“Parolees already return to our community,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier. “We must make sure they return marked by success and not chronic failure.”
Durand, Michelle. ”State pitches re-entry jail facility plan. ” San Mateo Daily Journal. Sept. 29, 2007.
Solano Sheriff Gary Stanton and District Attorney David Paulson both say they strongly support the idea of creating a re-entry facility in Solano. "My position is that these people are coming back to Solano County whether we do anything or not," said Stanton. "We can continue to give them $200 bucks and a bus ticket with no hope of success or we can have a re-entry program where they are exposed to programs that will help them succeed."
Miller, Robin. “How to help inmates back into society.” Vacaville Reporter. Sept. 11, 2007
Elizabeth Egan, Fresno County district attorney stated, "I really like the consistency, the focus on providing the programs inmates need to successfully re-enter the community," Egan said. "If the programs help one inmate, if they result in one less failure of parole, this becomes a safer community."
Boyles, Denny. “State targets inmate rehab.” The Fresno Bee. Sept. 6, 2007