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Excitement filled the room at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony for San Francisco’s newly opened Community and Assessment Service Center (CASC). The event was a who’s who of San Francisco’s finest justice leaders and community-based service providers. CASC operates through its partnership with Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc. (LCA), San Francisco Adult Probation, and an impressive list of community-based service providers, which includes CJCJ. The ribbon-cutting event on June 18, 2013 commemorates San Francisco County’s dedication towards the utilization of alternatives for incarceration in serving public safety. Through the creation and implementation of these alternatives, the City and County once again show leadership in establishing a 21st century approach to criminal justice in California.

Incarceration practices and the use of alternatives vary greatly throughout California. In an era of Realignment, these county differences have become even more apparent. Local Community Correctional Partnerships (CCP), lead by the Chief of Probation within the county, are charged with constructing annual plans to effectively utilize Realignment dollars. Some counties have long histories of implementing alternatives to incarceration, while others are just beginning to develop them. Unfortunately, some continue to rely on incarceration, but not here in San Francisco.

Chief Still, District Attorney Gascón, and Sheriff Mirkarimi were among the extensive community leaders that were present at the CASC event. Their presence signifies a long-term commitment to developing interventions and strategies that truly address the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. CASC recognizes the need to provide a localized and coordinated selection of services for formerly incarcerated individuals. The center will provide a variety of programs such as employment readiness training, cognitive behavioral therapy, and barrier removal services. The diverse range of staff and community partners offers culturally competent services that can be tailored to address each client’s individualized needs. The enthusiasm in the room was reflective of the dedication service providers and justice leaders in San Francisco have to serving formerly incarcerated individuals.

Chief Still and Linda Connelly, President of LCA, indicated that CASC’s doors are always open to visitors. CJCJ encourages statewide justice leaders to visit to this program. CASC stands to provide a model for the rest of the state and perhaps progresses the state one step closer to a system that is fair and equitable for all justice-involved individuals.