Event held to educate local officials and stakeholders on new reforms
San Diego – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) hosted the third 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 San Diego, included representatives from San Diego and Imperial 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 Bill Kolender, San Diego County, whose office hosted the workshop. “San Diego 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. Helping inmates succeed on parole and once they are off supervision will increase public safety and reduce crime.”
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis said it is important that superior court judges know that when someone is sentenced to state prison – there will be meaningful programs available to offenders once they are paroled back to the county of commitment.
“These informational workshops are important to raise local awareness of the secure community reentry facility models. Any final plans and agreements on secure community reentry facilities will be negotiated by county sheriffs and county administrative officers, but those of us who work in public safety will ensure these are set up correctly,” said District Attorney Dumanis.
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 third in a series of nine statewide regional workshops that have been organized through October 5th, 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 workshop were from San Diego and Imperial counties, and included: 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: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/PrisonReform.html