State Probation Department likely to close Vallejo Branch
Center for Positive Change budgeted for Fairfield
By Marc Garman with Robert Schussel, Ph.D
Discussion at the Community Correction Partners (CCP) meeting held in Fairfield on February 13, 2013 centered on the controversial Parolee Day Reporting Center (now renamed Solano Center for Positive Change) proposed for Vallejo. Citizen concerns surrounding the possible increase in parolees in the community has been at the center of the Parolee/Center for Positive Change controversy. However, according to Northbay District Parole Administrator Deborah Johnson, it is likely that the Vallejo branch of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (parole and probation for the state) located at 1840 Capitol St. will likely close within the next 12 months due to staff cuts and funding issues.
If this closure does take place as expected, parolees under state supervision in the Vallejo area would likely have to go to Fairfield to fulfill their reporting requirement. Of course, one distinction between the proposed Vallejo “Center for Positive Change” (formerly DRC) and the currently operating California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Vallejo Parolee Unit) is that the Center for Positive Change is operated at the county level and jurisdiction while the Corrections and Rehabilitation office is under state jurisdiction. Parolees to be supervised at the Center for Positive Change would have to be classified as non-violent, non sex offenders and lower risk (subjective). Those under state supervision are generally considered to be higher risk, more violent including sex offenders.
The bottom line after munching through this bowl of acronym salad is that it seems that Vallejo may end up providing services for fewer and less violent parolees in sum total within the next year. The proposed Center for Positive Change is funded to provide services for 75 parolees out of the approximately 400 county wide (PCRS) parolees under county jurisdiction (not state parolees). It is impossible to quantify how many state supervised parolees may re-locate to Fairfield; however, the closure of the state administered Corrections and Rehabilitation office in Vallejo is expected to be a somewhat mitigating factor in citizen concerns over the number of parolees in the community.
It would also appear that Vallejo citizen outrage and the Vallejo City Council resolution regarding the previously named “Day Reporting Center” proposed for Vallejo seems to have sped up (read forced) the planned opening of a similar facility in Fairfield; one of the major points of contention. ( Many folks were up in arms about the idea of making Vallejo a prime destination for parolees from elsewhere.) A look at the budget for the program reveals that originally $1,102,105 was allocated to open one center in Vallejo. There was talk about opening a facility in Fairfield but talk is cheap and it helps to Show Us the Money. Just recently (in the last few weeks), the budget for this program more or less doubled to $2,214,851 (poof just like that). This would seem to indicate that there is now funding for a second center to be opened in Fairfield sooner rather than later. Amazing how citizen outrage over a perceived county cram down seems to have squeezed a million plus dollars out of the county. For sure, county officials will never admit it...but it seems that when they saw an active engaged citizenry and City Council in Vallejo they were pressured into acting.
One question over parolees expected to attend the Center for Positive Change in Vallejo remains however. Parolees are classed as non-violent etc. based purely on their most recent offense. This would be true even if there are past convictions for violent crimes (excluding murder, sex crimes and 3 strikers). When questioned about disclosing the disposition of past convictions for parolees now deemed “non-violent” Dr. Chris Hansen, Chief Probation Officer for Solano County has indicated that disclosure of such information is at least “several months away” in spite of Hansen having a full time research assistant working for him. I guess there are some things they still just don't want us to know.