SACRAMENTO – As part of the comprehensive prison reforms underway in California, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has launched the “Pathways to Rehabilitation” project, which is designed to increase inmate access to programs and reduce recidivism rates.
Today, Carole Hood, CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Programs, presented a video on the Pathways to Rehabilitation Project that highlights some of the progress to-date at one of the first demonstration sites, California State Prison Solano.
“The ‘Pathways to Rehabilitation’ project is a roadmap for implementing prison reforms that will result in a higher percentage of inmates leaving prison and never coming back,” said Hood. “This project is a key component of the broader prison reforms that started with AB 900, and will help equip our institutions with the tools they need to achieve the seismic shift in our corrections system that lawmakers envisioned.”
The “Pathways to Rehabilitation” project was recommended by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Strike Teams on prison reform, and is consistent with recommendations made by the Expert Panel that was convened to review rehabilitation in California. It is a means for implementing effective rehabilitation programs in a coordinated manner throughout CDCR.
“The ‘Pathways to Rehabilitation’ project will help ensure that inmates have access to education, vocational training and drug treatment programs, and that they return home from prison better off than when we received them,” said Kathy Jett, CDCR Undersecretary for Programs. “This project is the foundation upon which all of our programs will be built throughout our 33 institutions and parole.”
The program will ultimately follow an inmate from the day he is received at a reception center through his ultimate release onto parole. The “Pathways” project utilizes the California Logic Model, under which CDCR will conduct risk and needs assessments on inmates, develop tailored case management plans, deliver evidence-based rehabilitation programs, monitor inmates’ progress, and help prepare inmates to reintegrate back into their home communities.
Demonstration sites for the “Pathways to Rehabilitation” project were identified in a reception center, general population prison, secure community reentry facility, and parole region as follows:
- Deuel Vocational Institute, Tracy – Reception Center;
- CSP Solano, Vacaville – General Population Prison;
- Northern California Reentry Facility (NCRF), Stockton – Secure Community Reentry Facility; and,
- Parole Region 1, Central California from Bakersfield to the Oregon border – Amador, Calaveras, and San Joaquin Units Receiving Offenders Released from NCRF.
Solano Selected as Demonstration Site
California State Prison, Solano was selected as the demonstration site for a general population prison as part of the project. CDCR officials worked with staff at Solano to develop a plan to curb gang and disruptive influences leading to lockdowns, reduce overcrowding, and increase access to rehabilitation programs. To date, the program at Solano has been successful.
- Operation “Changing Tides”: In March 2008, CDCR conducted a 10-day operation referred to as operation “Changing Tides.” This operation was designed to gather intelligence about the activities of the prison gangs and disruptive groups at Solano and to identify, validate and remove inmates aligning themselves with prison gangs or engaging in violent behavior. The goal of operation “Changing Tides” was to reduce the negative influences that hinder the rehabilitative process and the full integration of inmates in programming and housing assignments. The operation resulted in 21 prison gang validations. Many of these inmates were transferred to other facilities, or placed in segregated housing units. The operation has helped prison officials curtail activity that leads to lockdowns and can impede access to rehabilitation programs.
- Reducing Overcrowding by Repurposing a Gymnasium: Solano was able to deactivate a gymnasium that had for years been used to house more than 225 inmates and reactivate it for its designed use – recreational and rehabilitation programs. In addition to providing much-needed space for rehabilitation-focused programs, the new gymnasium allows CDCR staff to provide incentives to inmates for good behavior. Out-of-state inmate transfers and other effective population reduction measures have allowed CDCR to deactivate a more than 13 gymnasiums in prisons across California.
- Increased Access to Rehabilitation Programs: Inmates at Solano have increased access to rehabilitation programs due to the “Pathways to Rehabilitation” project, and the institution has already begun to implement many new initiatives as a result:
- The inmate population has been assessed to determine their education levels, and classrooms and courses are being realigned to meet their needs;
- There have been significant increases in participation in substance abuse programs, and select inmates who have successfully completed programs are being certified as peer tutors to help their fellow inmates;
- Solano is in the process of making lifer inmates and other inmate peer counselors eligible for similar pay to those in Prison Industry Authority work assignments to incentivize their participation, and better utilize existing human resources;
- The institution is in the process of implementing red “Privilege Cards” that inmates can use for things such as access to night-yard, priority access to canteen, etc. as a reward for good behavior;
- New core programs and a new approach based on inmates individual needs will soon be implemented.