21 Aug 2014
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Supes Adopt Plan to Absorb State Prison Overflow

San Mateo County will absorb about 600 additional inmates by 2014 under realignment plan. Rehabilitation programs pivotal to reducing recidivism.

Supes Adopt Plan to Absorb State Prison Overflow

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a strategic realignment plan that aims to accommodate hundreds of low-level offenders that are now being sent to county jails and local reentry programs instead of state prisons.

Chief Probation Officer Stuart Forest, whose department will oversee the county's realignment plan, said the county should be prepared to take responsibility for around 600 additional inmates by 2014.

Since the state's realignment mandate went into effect in October 2011, around 66 inmates who would have gone to state prison were sentenced to jail or placed under mandatory supervised probation in San Mateo County, according to the probation department.

Forest said the county's local implementation plan -- which was developed by a community partnership of county officials, chief law enforcement officers, prosecutors and human services experts -- incorporates a range of rehabilitative approaches to dealing with non-violent inmates, both before they are released from jail and after.

"The local implementation plan is based on broad, interdisciplinary cooperation," Forest said.

The county's approach is to reduce recidivism through a combination of re-entry programs and services, including vocational job training, substance abuse treatment, housing support services, probation supervision and mental health programs.

Forest acknowledged the complexity of the plan and its goals, but said it incorporated a fair amount of flexibility to make necessary changes as realignment progresses.

"The local implementation plan is flexible enough to respond to unforeseeable changes in the population it serves," he said.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the plan.

Board President Adrienne Tissier praised all parties that were involved in preparing the realignment plan, and let the public know that implementing the myriad of programs that were coordinated to deal with a steady influx of inmates is still a work in progress.

"At the end of the day, it isn't absolutely everything that everyone wanted, but it's a good framework," Tissier said.

"We're going to be able to determine what's working in the best interest of the entire community," she said.

Supervisor David Pine agreed, adding that he was confident that the community's broad-based strategy to drop recidivism rates was destined to be a success.

"I really have confidence in our county partners," Pine said. "I think we're going to be surprised with the positive outcomes we're going to have."

-- Bay City News

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