Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
May 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Getting Out and Staying Out

news_prison_barsSanta Cruz County puts federal grant toward reducing recidivism
Every month, 1,100 adult offenders are released from local jails and back into the Santa Cruz County community. These individuals will return to jail an average of six times throughout their adult lives.

With this in mind, a collective of Santa Cruz County agencies, nonprofits and community groups jumped at the chance to fight for the highly competitive Federal Second Chance Act Mentoring Grant when it became available through the U.S. Department of Justice last year. Their enthusiastic effort paid off—in November, Santa Cruz County was awarded the $750,000 grant for its proposal for a project called Reduction Through Research-Based Rehabilitation and Reentry, or R5. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors officially approved the use of the grant funds for the R5 program.     

R5 Program Manager Andrew Davis believes there are several reasons Santa Cruz’s proposal was selected. “One, there’s a level of collaboration here in Santa Cruz County that is really unusual and very powerful. Funders appreciate seeing that,” says Davis, noting that R5 brings the county’s Probation Department, Sheriff’s Office and Alcohol and Drug Services Program together with five community-run entities: the Volunteer Center, Community Action Board, Barrios Unidos, Cabrillo College and the Conflict Resolution Center.

He goes on to say that Santa Cruz County’s national reputation for successful juvenile detention reform efforts also gave them a leg up in the grant competition. But perhaps the most favorable quality of the R5 proposal, says Davis, is “the clear commitment to utilize evidence-based programs, rather than [do] business as usual, which clearly isn’t working.”

The program will make use of years of research on “what does and doesn’t work” in terms of preventing recidivism, or repeat incarceration, and will develop tools for identifying and helping men and women who are “high-risk,” or likely to return to jail or prison.

“Providing a lot of resources for those who are low risk can be counter productive,” says Davis. “With the high-risk [offenders], based on the type of their offense, their histories, and from interviewing them, we know for sure they’re coming back. And any difference we make with that population will have a big pay off for the community.”

R5 will target 18- to 25-year-olds with histories of violence and higher-than-average recidivism (meaning they’ve been to jail more than three times in the past year), providing them with increased probation supervision, evidence-based intervention and easy access to the services and resources provided by the program’s many partners.

“It has the potential to increase the involvement of other community agencies and institutions,” says Davis. For example, Friends Outside, a program run by the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center and one the five community partners involved in the collaboration, will receive funding to shore up its efforts to help incarcerated men and women successfully adjust to life on the outside.

Davis expects the effects of the R5 program to be severalfold. By helping young repeat offenders break from the cycle of crime and incarceration, he says there will be less crime, increased public safety, and a noticeable fiscal benefit. In addition to the costs of crime (those absorbed by victims, insurance costs, the county’s overhead for policing and law enforcement), Davis points to the steep cost of incarceration: $77 per day, per prisoner, according to the Santa Cruz County Probation Department. The average jail stint in the county is 26 days, checking out at about $2,000. “If we can break this cycle within that population, the impact will be enormous,” says Davis.

Last week’s approval of the R5 funding came at time of great uncertainty within the county as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget, which includes a plan for realigning many services—including responsibility for some low-level offenders and parole and probation operations—from the state to local level. While this could increase the county’s workload, Davis says it may also provide some golden opportunities. The county’s Chief Probation Officer, Scott MacDonald, agrees.

"The state is looking for ways to improve its highly ineffective and costly prison and parole system,” says MacDonald. “Evidence-based programs that improve public safety by breaking the cycle of crime, reducing victimization in the community, and helping offenders become productive citizens is the best investment of our limited resources. R5 provides us with a blueprint to achieve this in our community at this critical time of realignment.”

Davis believes the R5 effort could set the bar for counties nationwide. “Virtually all of the people in the jail are coming back into our community,” he says. “The question is what will happen when they come back?”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival