FAIRFIELD — Solano County is moving ahead with a $2 million plan designed to keep felons in Fairfield and Vallejo from reoffending.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved creating a program for former inmates under the supervision of the Solano County Probation Department. Those assigned to the program would get such services as cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse prevention help and job training.
In Fairfield, the services are to be offered at the downtown Probation Department at 475 Union Ave. and at the Health and Social Services Department at 275 Beck Ave. in the Solano Business Park. In Vallejo, the services will be offered at a single location, the county complex at 355 Tuolumne St.
The Vallejo location is to be known as the Solano County Center for Positive Change. The county at some point wants to consolidate the Fairfield services at a single location and create another Center for Positive Change. Each center is to serve about 75 people at a time.
This is among Solano County’s responses to state realignment that in October 2011 transferred responsibility for what the state deems as “low-level offenders” from the state to counties. The county has more than 350 people under the supervision of the Probation Department who formerly would have been supervised by state parole.
“We owe it to the community to make this program work,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Linda Seifert said.
The Vallejo City Council and various residents have expressed concerns about establishing the Vallejo service center. Some have said a center could create more crime in the neighborhood where it is located. Some have said that, because Vallejo pared back its Police Department amid budget cuts, Fairfield could better handle the initial service center.
Vallejo resident Nathan Stout on Tuesday told the Board of Supervisors that when people get out of jail, they will go to where the services are offered. For that reason, he wants to see equal services offered throughout the county, rather than having a single service center in Vallejo.
Vallejo resident Anne Carr said the county should open a center in Fairfield concurrently with the one in Vallejo. That Fairfield center needs to be more than a center in name only, she said.
County Supervisor Jim Spering said most of the objections to the service center are based on what people think is going to happen, not necessarily on what is going to happen. The county needs to monitor the program so it can build on the successes and mitigate the impacts.
“Do we need a program up in Fairfield? Absolutely,” said Spering, whose district covers a large part of that city.
Chief Probation Officer Christopher Hansen said the county will offer the same program in Vallejo and Fairfield. The first services will begin in April and more will be phased in over the coming six months or so, he said.
Consolidating the Fairfield services at a single Center for Positive Change will take more time. Hansen said what’s needed is 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of space in a county-owned building. That location will probably be in the downtown or at the county’s Beck Avenue Health and Social Services complex, he said.
“Prior to us doing this, we’re going to be having more community outreach in Fairfield,” Hansen said. “We have already started speaking with city officials in Fairfield.”
Some Vallejo residents have said the county initially failed to do adequate public outreach in Vallejo.
Solano County Superior Court judge and Vallejo resident Paul Beeman said that when these felons leave prison, they need services and need them quickly. Otherwise, they will revert to their former way of life and commit crimes, he said.
“What’s before you is a smart idea,” Beeman told the Board of Supervisors. “In my opinion, you should support it.”
Money for the Center for Positive Change program is coming from the state.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.