The plan for overseeing inmates and parolees in Santa Barbara County in the 2018-19 fiscal year calls for expanding a number of programs instituted in the current and previous plans and adding almost four full-time personnel, according to a report the Board of Supervisors heard May 15 from the Probation Department.
Money left in the fund restricted to programs implementing the state’s Public Safety Realignment Act at the end of the current fiscal year is expected to total nearly $4.6 million, with another $658,400 left over for planning.
Although the increase in services and personnel will use more than the $13.6 million in estimated revenue from the state allocation plus carryover balances, the plan anticipates ending the fiscal year with a nearly $4.2 million balance in the restricted fund.
Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the plan developed by the Community Corrections Partnership, although 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam expressed reservations about the housing portion of the plan.
Adam said he had a concern “that we’ll through a lot of people into housing that are just not ready.”
But 1st District Supervisor and Board Chairman Das Williams was more supportive of the housing element.
“An additional housing project would be well within the purpose of these funds, and I would be supportive of it,” Williams said. “We do need a win on supportive housing … .
“I would encourage you to scour the community for the right site for a project,” he told representatives of the Community Corrections Partnership.
Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, who has served as an at-large member of the Community Corrections Partnership, said she has been impressed with the work at the Probation Report and Resource Center.
“There are a lot of things going on (there) to help this clientele,” she said, adding that the pretrial release supervision program is “one of the most exciting things to me.”
She also complimented the financial aspects of the plan.
“I think the money that has been spent has been done so very judiciously,” she said, leaving a healthy fund balance that can be used if a promising project comes along.
The plan was developed with the goal of reducing recidivism among various populations of offenders within the county, according to the report delivered by Kimberly Shean, deputy chief probation officer.
Funding allocations will come back before the board during June budget hearings incorporated into the budgets for the Probation, Sheriff, Behavioral Wellness and Auditor-Controller departments, the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices and the County Superior Court.
Shean explained that the Public Safety Realignment Act implemented in 2011 shifted responsibility for certain state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmates and parolees to counties.
The purpose of the act was “to address overcrowding in the prisons and assist with the state’s fiscal crisis,” she explained.
Each year since then, the Community Corrections Partnership has developed a plan for the coming year, which is then brought to the Board of Supervisors for approval and adoption, Shean said.
She said the county is responsible for two offender populations.
One consists those released from state prison for nonviolent, nonserious felonies who are not considered high risk sex offenders under the Post Release Community Supervision program.
The other population is made up of individuals serving felony sentences locally for nonviolent, nonserious, nonsex offenses who are subject to post sentence supervision by the Probation Department under the Post Sentence Supervision program.
Shean said as of April 16, there were 290 offenders in Post Release Community Supervision, a number expected to rise to 320 by June 2019, and 160 offenders under Post Sentence Supervision, but expected to drop to 143 by June 2019, continuing a trend from at least the past five years.
Among the accomplishments from the 2017-18 plan, Shean listed implementation of a Master Name Index to improve coordination among agencies, monitoring program effectiveness through a Quality Assurance Committee.
In addition, implementation of pretrial supervision helped determine which offenders were likely to reoffend prior to going to trial and efforts to engage the community in helping offenders integrate back into society and planning for jail discharges.
“The transition from custody is a critical time of change and can have dramatic impacts on success,” Shean said, noting that during the first quarter there were more than 1,100 referrals for assistance.
The objectives of the plan for 2018-19 include increasing community partnerships and engagement through community forums to explain realignment efforts, encouraging communication among community groups and ensure a wide representation of the diverse population among the Community Corrections Partnership’s collaborative partners.
Programs at the jail will be expanded through the addition of 90 Endovo tablets for inmates’ use and increasing the Sheriff’s Treatment Program capacity.
The plan also calls for facilitating access to sober living, transitional housing and supportive long-term housing through a Housing Committee and AmeriCorps housing specialists.
Shean said creating a Mental Health Rehabilitation Center will help individuals with a history of severe mental illness and being involved in the criminal justice system because they can’t be treated at lower levels.
But before embarking on construction of such a facility, a pilot program was conducted at Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall, and while funding for the project remains earmarked in the budget, more planning and review will be needed as other sites are considered.
The revisions in the 2018-19 plan will result in the addition of three full-time equivalent positions in the Probation Department, 0.65 of a full-time position in the District Attorney’s Office and one full-time equivalent in the courts.