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Those closest to the problem should be at the forefront of the solution

In an era of Realignment, who should be involved in determining the local jurisdictions' implementation plans?  Currently, this responsibility is maintained with the Community Corrections Partnerships (CCP) in each of California's 58 counties.  The CCP is lead by the Chief Probation Officer and includes but is not limited to the District Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff and Chief of Police.  There is one seat designated for a representative of a community-based organization serving formerly incarcerated individuals.  Currently, there are efforts to expand the law-enforcement focus of this body by adding additional rank and file staff from the Sheriff and Probation Departments through Assembly Bill 2031 (Fuentes) .

This bill is progressing through the legislature despite opposition from advocates, the Chief Probation Officer's Association, and the Sheriff's Association, who are concerned that the bill would create an unmanageable committee size at a tenuous point in the realignment process.  Read letters regarding AB 2031:

~ Chief Probation Officers of California

~ California State Sheriff's Association
~ Regional Council of Rural Counties

However, there is a more concerning objection.  AB 2031 ignores the necessary inclusion of the community voice in planning for realignment.  Local community-based services providers are comprised of staff that maintain expertise in the challenges of the formerly incarcerated population.  They hold essential insight into the unique needs of the local population.  Without a strong community voice, CCP's lack essential information on the actual impact and effectiveness of their planned interventions.  By increasing law enforcement presence on the CCP's, AB 2031 dilutes the already minimal presence of affected communities.

CJCJ believes it is important to include the voice of formerly incarcerated individuals in the policy making process.  In San Francisco two local advisory boards, the San Francisco Reentry Council and the San Francisco Sentencing Commission , maintain seats for formerly incarcerated individuals or those that work with this population.  The San Francisco Reentry Council, established in 2008, has proven to be a model for statewide reentry efforts.  The inclusion of the formerly incarcerated individual is essential to making informed policy decisions.  San Francisco's examples demonstrate the importance of including those most affected by the problem in the cultivation of the solution.  

Keywords: Kate McCracken, local policy, reentry, San Francisco, state policy

Posted in Blog, Model Local Practices

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