SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is hoping that a pilot re-entry program it will test in San Diego and San Bernardino counties this fall will make a dent in the state’s 70 percent prisoner recidivism rate.
The program will change the current practice of having a new inmate’s needs, such as education, drug treatment and job training, be determined at the prison. Instead, a case manager from the prisoner’s home county will create an education or treatment plan, which another case manager at the prison will monitor.
When the prisoner is released, the county case manager, who has arranged for housing, will meet the prisoner and take over the case. This will be in contrast to the current practice of giving released prisoners cash and a bus ticket but no other assistance.
Proponents of the pilot program, which will enroll six volunteer inmates per week, say that it will inhibit recidivism by helping inmates return to a supportive community without having to struggle to find housing. At the same time, it will allow authorities to keep better tabs on parolees, especially violent inmates.
Male prisoners from San Diego County will be sent to the Robert J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, east of San Diego. Female prisoners from San Bernardino County will be sent to the California Institute in Chino, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
San Diego County will ask the San Diego Association of Governments to evaluate how well the program works.
Six other counties are interested in piloting a similar program: Fresno, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Mateo and Yolo.