FAIRFIELD — A possible day reporting center in Fairfield to provide services for former state prison inmates under county supervision could soon the topic of discussion.
So far, the focus has been on a center the county proposes to open in Vallejo at 355 Tuolumne St. Despite county claims that the center would help only former inmates who already live in Vallejo, some residents expressed fear about increased crime and complained about the way the county handled public outreach.
The idea of establishing a second center in Fairfield to serve former inmates in that part of the county has previously been discussed. A committee looking at the issue must now decide whether it wants to move ahead with a Fairfield center in the near future.
Sheriff Tom Ferrara said the public outreach for a proposed Fairfield center should be handled differently than with the Vallejo center. City officials need to be apprised of possible sites, he said.
The Community Corrections Partnership, which is advising the county Board of Supervisors, discussed the issue briefly Wednesday. It is to discuss the matter again Jan. 16, 2013, with recommendations possibly going to the Board of Supervisors Feb. 19, 2013.
Driving the matter is the state’s move to ease its budget and prison overcrowding problems by transferring more responsibilities to counties. Among the new policies is the Post Release Community Supervision Program, which has counties supervise former prison inmates that the state deems nonviolent and doesn’t put under state parole supervision.
Solano County has 378 former prison inmates under its supervision, with 41 percent living in Vallejo, 32 percent in Fairfield, 14 percent in Vacaville, 7 percent in Suisun City, 5 percent in Dixon and 1 percent in Rio Vista and Benicia.
Along with the new county responsibilities came new state money. Solano County is looking to spend $1.5 million to establish the Vallejo day reporting center to provide former inmates with such things as job skill training and substance abuse treatment.
A stated goal of the day reporting center is to change the way the former inmates think and interact with society, so they don’t commit further crimes. The county’s selling point is that it is better to have these people get services from a center than simply live in the community without getting any services.
County Chief Probation Officer Christopher Hansen at Wednesday’s meeting said the term “day reporting center” is misleading. The center is to be all about programs and treatment, rather than being a place where people go to hang out all day, he said.
The proposed Vallejo day reporting center has caused controversy. The Vallejo City Council at its Tuesday meeting by a 4-2 vote expressed its displeasure with the way things have gone and detailed conditions it wants met before a Vallejo center gets opened.
“Not once have we been asked for our opinion in the sense of what do we want, where do we want it, what would it be like,” City Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said at the meeting.
Fairfield was also considered for the day reporting center, Gomes said. Fairfield should be the test case, with a center then coming to Vallejo, she said.
The Vallejo City Council’s resolution stated that Fairfield and Vallejo day reporting centers should be opened at the same time.
The Community Corrections Partnership on Wednesday seemed willing to at least entertain the idea of moving ahead with a Fairfield and Vallejo center concurrently.
District Attorney Don du Bain said the committee could have done a better job reaching out to the Vallejo community before initially bringing the issue Nov. 6 to the county Board of Supervisors. The board delayed establishing the Vallejo center at that meeting after learning of community opposition.
The committee is trying to correct the outreach problem, du Bain said. Also, he said, the committee needs to expedite looking at a center for the north county, exploring such issues as capacity and siting, he said.
“I think we need to get that information back to us so we can starting moving forward with the center in Fairfield,” he said.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price when contacted Thursday said he is not yet prepared to comment on a possible Fairfield day reporting center. He had yet to be told about the issue and will be doing research in coming days, he said.
“First of all, I’m going to need to know a whole lot more about it,” Price said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.