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Local News

Parolee Reporting-Center Plan Goes to Supervisors for Vote

Also on Tuesday, the board will discuss banning smoking at all county parks and beaches

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department will oversee two day-reporting centers for state prison parolees, if the Board of Supervisors approves the agreement Tuesday.

State-funded centers in Santa Maria and downtown Santa Barbara would provide services for released inmates who are mandated to attend as a condition of parole, typically for up to six months. Sheriff Bill Brown said his department staff would oversee the programs while the program interaction would be subcontracted with a private company, CFI Community Solutions Inc.

Up to 300 parolees could be served each year by the two facilities, and the operating budgets for the next two fiscal years would be $1.6 million, with $1.5 million going to the subcontractor company, according to county documents.

Day-reporting centers won’t serve any nonserious, nonrevocable parolees released by the state’s early release legislation, though the county would be impacted by those people coming back into the community, Brown said.

The centers are “one-stop shops” that include treatment, counseling, life skills development, job training and other services, as parolees have a much higher likelihood to reoffend without any intervention programs, Brown said.

A county coalition, which includes the sheriff’s department, received state grants toward efforts to reduce recidivism — the rate of reoffending — in the past, and after funding ran out, the county looked at the reporting centers as an opportunity to continue its work.

Helping former inmates assimilate back into society can reduce recidivism, which thereby lessens the jail — and prison — system’s overcrowding problem and keeps the community safer, Brown said.

County jails could get hit with more overcrowding because of some suggestions in the governor’s current budget, including changing the penal code to have some inmates serve 366-day felony sentences in county jails instead of state prisons.

Supervisors will discuss and take action on the agreement between the sheriff’s department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as part of its departmental agenda. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has said it will fund the effort and not require any money from the county.

They’ll also discuss banning smoking at all county parks and beaches, something county departments have considered for years.

An amendment to the county code’s tobacco control ordinance would restrict smoking at county parks, beaches and trailheads, with some exceptions. Camping parks such as Cachuma Lake and Jalama Beach, where overnight stays are permitted and customary, would be exempt from the restrictions, as would areas around park employees’ residences.

The first reading of the revised ordinance will be Tuesday, with a second hearing scheduled for April 20.

In Santa Barbara County, only Carpinteria has banned smoking in its parks and beaches, while jurisdictions all over California, including many coastal cities, have adopted smoke-free policies for public recreational areas.

Secondhand smoke and cigarette butt litter are the major concerns with smoking, said Supervisor Janet Wolf, who has worked with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on the issue.

A survey of 2,400 people included in a staff presentation to the board stated that 80 percent of those surveyed supported smoke-free parks and beaches.

Enforcement would be self-regulating, as there are no funds for additional personnel, but local law enforcement and park rangers can enforce the ordinance.

Funds for signage and public outreach are available through the Tobacco Settlement Advisory Committee, Wolf said.

Tuesday’s board meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the board hearing room on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

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

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