Reentry facility seeks to reduce inmate recidivism 

click to enlarge Hall of Justice
  • Cindy Chew/2010 S.F Examiner file photo
The Sheriff’s Department is launching a three-year pilot program to house up to 56 state inmates in a County Jail facility for up to 60 days before their scheduled release under California’s prison realignment program.

The effort is intended to reduce recidivism rates by connecting these inmates with local services before they are out on probation.

The idea for the Secure Reentry Program Facility, or Reentry Pod, which is located in County Jail adjacent to the Hall of Justice on 850 Bryant St. in San Francisco, was conceived after Adult Probation Chief Wendy Still began to notice a “gap” in the transfer of state inmates under realignment to local law enforcement for supervision.

“When inmates are being released from state prison basically there is not a warm handoff,” Still said. The recidivism rate for state prisons in 2013 was 61 percent, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, but Still said for locally held inmates there is an “85 percent successful completion rate.”

Still said those reached earlier in the program have a greater likelihood of successfully completing their post-release community supervision.

“We were the first county that sent probationer officers into the state prison to actually begin pre-release work. But we couldn’t send people all over the state, so that is where I got the idea to let’s try and bring them back early,” said Still, who helped pass a state bill to allow for earlier transfers.

The three-year pilot, estimated to cost $4.2 million, would be reimbursed by the state under a contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The county facility can hold up to 56 inmates. The current estimate is that it would have an initial average daily population of 24 state inmates, budget analyst Harvey Rose said.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi praised the contract, which was approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee. He said the inmates will receive the kind of services that the overall jail population is exposed to and others more tailored to their needs like cognitive behavior programming, educational programs and substance abuse treatment.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would allow counties to accept the transfer of state inmates up to 12 months in advance of their release. The new program could also influence the debate over the need for a new jail next to the Hall of Justice and how many beds would be required, Rose said.

Correction: This story was updated Feb. 27 to correct the recidivism rate among California inmates.

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