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Community Corrections Partnership Update

 

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly on how Vallejo bound parolees are being handled at the county level


By Robert Schussel, Ph.D

5/10/13



"The mission of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) is to discuss issues related to the implementation of various pieces of state legislation that focus on adult criminal offenders, including the realignment of many state public safety functions to local jurisdictions. The overall objective is to reduce the recidivism rate of adult offenders in the local criminal justice system."

This month's meeting of the Solano County CCP ( Community Corrections Partnership) in Fairfield on Wednesday May 8 contained the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


The Good

The two Service Centers (formerly called Day Reporting Centers) in Fairfield and Vallejo are now open. Current plans are for both of them to be operating at full capacity (75 at each location) in about four months. A victory for Vallejo residents is that the Chief Probation Officer for Solano County, Dr. Chris Hansen stated that PCRS parolees who do not live in the Vallejo/Benicia area will be using the Fairfield facility.

 

 

The Bad

For the past six months I have been requesting that CCP tell the public the percentage of PRCS (Post Release Community Supervision) parolees being released in Solano County who have been convicted of a violent crime in the past. PRCS parolees are referred to by the State as Non, Non Non's (the individual is Non-Violent, Non-Serious, Non-Sexual (N3) Felony Offender). However the individual could have committed a violent crime in the past (murders or those with some other serious crimes are not allowed to be classified as a PRCS ).


Most recently I was told I had to call Sacramento myself to get the prior serious conviction information. At CCP I shared what I had learned: The researcher supporting CCP was the appropriate person to request this information once they were approved by the agency. This has not occurred to date.


According to Solano County Chief Probation Officer Dr. Chris Hansen, staff estimates indicate that 43% of the PRCS parolees have had a conviction for a violent crime (as defined by statute) in the past. This estimate of violent behavior is likely lower than actual as serious felonies are often plea bargained down to a less serious offense. There is some evidence that violent offenders (especially murders) are statistically less likely to commit a violent crime again but it is not known if this finding will be true for the PRCS parolees or not.


The Ugly

Most of the meeting was spent discussing CCPs $15,700,000 proposed budget. I will spare you most of the gruesome details but here are a few gruesome highlights:


  • It was pointed out that the County Administrator (Birgitta Corsello) is spending more money on a Financial Analyst ($140,000) than what is being spent on security for the Vallejo facility. (one half of a Police Officer --$100K) for Vallejo.


  • $1.5million is being set aside for building and rehabbing even though the county has a building in Vallejo and will be using part of the Claybank Jail for a Service Center. When asked why some of these monies aren't being used for community security instead, the response was that the two centers have "special needs" and CCP wants to make sure it has enough money.


  • The County Administrator wanted to put on hold a request from the District Attorney's office to hire a full time employee for victim assistance ($100K) . The CCP committee overrode the County Administrator's recommendation after several CCP members openly disagreed with the County Administrator.



Comments

It is obvious that the County Administrator has tight reins over the CCP budget and some of her budget decisions are not in the best interests of the public such as wanting to delay the hiring of a victim assistance functionary. One must also question why monies are being held over from year to year and not being spent. Even for physical rehab of the DRC facility, no estimates are being provided on what the typical costs might be. Are unspent CCP funds being used to balance other parts of the County's budget?


The scope and role of the Probation Department and the Sheriff has changed dramatically with the state's increased release (AB109) of parolees to the county. It appears that the former Chief Probation officer did not prepare for the changes that were coming and left Dr Hansen (current Chief Probation Officer ) with a mess. Released PRCS parolees started to show up in January 2012 yet it took an additional 15 months for the service center to open.


Final Thoughts

The public needs to keep the CCP accountable and under a microscope. Many of the decisions being made by CCP are what's best for the County Government and its departments rather than putting the public (or Vallejo residents) first.


At times there has been an unwillingness by the CCP board to be forthright with the public about the parolees, implementation etc. Both citizens and officials are facing challenges and unanswered questions surrounding the release of parolees under AB109. CCP needs to stop trying to manageor withhold information from the public and become more of a partner.