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Cross-sector collaborations demonstrate impressive results

Counties across the state are facing unprecedented new challenges in their adult and juvenile criminal justice systems.  Pressures are increasing on local systems due to adult corrections realignment under Assembly Bill 109 and unprecedented drops in federal funding for rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.   California counties are responding to these challenges with a wide variety of responses.  While county responses vary, one factor remains constant throughout the state: The ever-increasing importance of cross-sector collaboration in local criminal justice systems.

Two counties, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, have been highlighted in recent weeks that model exemplary cross-sector collaboration within their criminal justice systems.  A new CJCJ report details how the sheriff's and probation department, in Santa Cruz County partnered to develop system-wide reforms in response to a 2004 county grand jury critique of jail overcrowding.  Similar collaborations have been successful in San Francisco.  Several weeks ago, a site visit from Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cárdenas highlighted innovative inter-agency partnerships in San Francisco County's JCRT court model to provide serious youth offenders a true second chance after returning from out-of-home placement.  San Francisco has been able to creatively leverage existing funding, like wraparound and EPSDT dollars , as federal and state juvenile justice funding has been decreasing.    

Criminal justice leadership in both Santa Cruz and San Francisco were able to deconstruct organizational silos and overcome turf battles in the face of new challenges, thereby creating real opportunities for reform.  While requiring a new willingness to develop relationships based on trust across agencies usually in competition for funding, the results of cross-sector collaboration speak for themselves:

From the CJCJ report on Santa Cruz County:  "Since 1990 California's non-sentenced jail population has risen from 53.2% to 71.4% in 2010, while Santa Cruz remains significantly below the state average with a non-sentenced jail population of 53.8% in 2010.  Santa Cruz has implemented pre-sentence release alternatives to jail holding for non-sentenced individuals, a key element of preserving jail capacity through deliberate Santa Cruz Probation Department programs, [while maintaining public safety]."  

A post on the California's Children website quoted San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department statistics showing that, because of the JCRT model and wraparound approach:  "Recidivism rates for San Francisco youth upon returning from out-of-home placements dropped from approximately 80% to 35% from 2009 to 2010, and fell to approximately 20% by 2011."

It is clear from these results that while cross-sector collaboration requires an additional investment in time and coordination, the dramatically improved outcomes fully justify extra time invested.  

Under AB 109 realignment, the Governor has determined that counties can provide the best local solutions to serving lower-level offenders, thus placing the responsibility on county systems leaders for cross-sector collaboration and problem solving.  As local criminal justice policies and funding priorities are increasingly determined by each county's Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) under realignment, it will be imperative for systems leaders to develop consensus on innovative approaches to new criminal justice challenges.   

Each county's CCP is comprised of the sheriff, probation chief, superior court judge, chief of police, a county supervisor, and members of various county departments of labor, health, education, and substance abuse programs.  The CCP's represent an unprecedented opportunity for systems leaders to break through decades of agency silos in order to craft data-driven solutions that improve public safety while improving outcomes for juvenile and adult offender populations.   

The state has handed counties the responsibility, along with $2.25 billion dollars combined between fiscal year 2011-12 and fiscal year 2013-14.  Santa Cruz and San Francisco County, among others, are demonstrating collaborative pathways to success.  How will other county leaders respond?

Keywords: AB 109, Brian Heller de Leon, community corrections, local policy, San Francisco, Santa Cruz County

Posted in Blog, Model Local Practices

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