A representative within the Contra Costa jails have said that the state’s prison realignment program has caused the corrections department to take a closer look at inmate rehabilitation.
The program first took effect nearly 24 months ago. Since that time low-level, non-serious non-sexual offenders who would have been sent to state prison have instead been directed to county jails. This has caused mass overcrowding throughout California.
Local governments have pointed out that many offenders have needed to be released early because there is simply not enough room to hold them. This has opened up the floodgates in terms of conversations about how the realignment is impacting public safety. Contra Costa jails said they are currently holding more than 2,100 parole violators. In previous years those persons would have been sent directly to state prisons.
Those who would have once received year-long sentences are now being ordered to serve half that. In some cases they are getting out in as few as three months as long as they exhibit good behavior. Contra Costa jails have said it is still unclear whether shortened sentences will lead to an increase in repeat offenders.
This, according to corrections department officials, is why a greater focus needs to be placed on rehabilitation. Past statistics have shown the recidivism rate of state prisoners can be as high as 70%. It is believed that this rate is cut to 25% when people serve their time in county jails.
Inmate advocates reportedly say the focus should not be on getting former offenders jobs. Employment is important, they said, but they need to have access to programs that enhance personal development. They need to receive training in order to become less anti-social.
Former convicts have said that it is important that parolees and ex-cons receive guidance and mentoring. This will allow them to better integrate back into society. These are all key things to reducing recidivism rates for those detained within the Contra Costa jails.