Fewer re-offending instances from inmates in pilot program - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fewer re-offending instances from inmates in pilot program

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Inmates who went through a five-year pilot program in San Diego County were less likely to re-offend than other prisoners, reducing crime and saving money, according to a report issued Thursday by the San Diego County Association of Governments.

The San Diego Prisoner Reentry Program -- hich was used from February 2007 through last month, when funding was discontinued -- featured a 13-page "life plan" that was filled out for each of the nearly 1,100 inmates who took part. The plan addressed substance abuse, housing, employment, transportation and other needs that could be taken care of while in prison or upon release.

According to the report, half the inmates who went through the program were arrested in the first year after release, compared to 59 percent of prisoners who did not go through the program.

Only 21 percent of program inmates were returned to prison for a parole violation and 34 percent were sent back for any reason, compared to 39 percent and 51 percent, respectively, the findings showed.

Success was most likely for released inmates who followed through on service referrals, had stable housing and found employment.

"San Diego County was at the forefront of developing and adopting best practices to reduce recidivism," said SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Cynthia Burke. "The lessons we've learned here can be applied by local jurisdictions throughout California to effectively reintegrate ex-offenders and save taxpayers' money."

According to the SANDAG findings, the cost of the program was $123,648 per inmate, almost $8,200 lower than for similar ex-offenders under parole supervision. The upfront cost avoided greater re-incarceration expenses later, which average around $50,000 annually, and parole supervision, nearly $5,000 each year, according to SANDAG.

The total savings equaled about $10 million, SANDAG reported.

Burke said the types of offenders who went through the program were similar to those whose supervision was shifted to local jurisdictions in the state's realignment of public safety. About three-quarters had committed felonies, about half involved property crimes and one-third were drug offenses.

The San Diego Prisoner Reentry Program was run by the District Attorney's Office and included the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, county Probation and Sheriff's departments and Public Defender's Office, county Defense Bar, Superior Court, Grossmont Union High School District and UC San Diego.

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