Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 9:25 am | Fog/Mist 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Supervisors Voice Support for State-Funded Parolee Program

Day-reporting centers, including one in the Santa Barbara area, would serve as a 'one-stop shop of services' for released offenders

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors listened to Sheriff Bill Brown present details Tuesday on a program that could prevent recently released inmates from returning to jail.

According to the plan, two state-funded, day-reporting centers for parolees would be established in the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara areas, and would provide programming such as substance abuse treatment, anger management, education and job skills as a means to re-enter society.

Each year, 300 returning offenders would enroll in the program, which the state has said it will fund — at no cost to the county.

“In essence, this would be sort of a one-stop shop of services,” Brown said of the program, which also would provide oversight for recently released offenders. “Historically, 70 percent of that population is going to reoffend and going to be back in prison within three years of their release.”

It would teach things such as balancing a checkbook or controlling anger, “things you and I might take for granted, but that this population isn’t ready to do,” Brown said.

Most criminals who are sent to prison are released at some point and return to their communities, he said, and the program wouldn’t increase those numbers.

The day-center concept was recommended by the National Institute of Corrections when it issued an assessment of the local jail system in 2006.

Overcrowding and early release of parolees remain issues at the jail, and more than 20 grand jury reports have reiterated the need for a new jail, according to county staff reports. Brown said the day center is the logical next step that reduces the need for additional jail construction.

The centers would be operated by a private vendor or a nonprofit organization with oversight from the sheriff.

The supervisors approved the presentation 3-0, with Supervisors Joni Gray and Janet Wolf absent. Gray had a scheduling conflict, and Wolf was tending to family business after the death of her mother over the weekend.

Many of the programs the prisons have historically used have been slashed by budget cuts. Brown said the Sheriff’s Department currently finds parolees less prepared than in previous years because of those cuts.

Released inmates are given $200 to travel home, and not much else.

“Even if they have the best of intentions, many times they face difficulty finding proper housing and jobs,” Brown said, and they’re competing with people without criminal records in a tough job market.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has said it will fund the effort and not require any money from the county.

But the mention of state funding caused concern on the dais, particularly for Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

“The state continues to be in a state of chaos,” he said. “I’d hate for us to get all dressed up and not have any place to go.”

Despite his concern, Carbajal called the program outstanding. “At the end of the day, I think that’s going to be a very good thing for our community,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department expects to be back before the board next month with concepts for the project.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >