FAIRFIELD – County supervisors on Tuesday delayed spending $1.5 million in state realignment money to establish a day reporting center for parolees from the state prison system.
The center is to be located at 355 Tuolumne St. in Vallejo, with a Fairfield center to perhaps someday follow. It is to work with parolees transferred from the state to county supervision under the 2011 state realignment legislation.
“We didn’t ask for this,” Chief Probation Officer Christopher Hansen told county supervisors. “We didn’t want this project. But we got it. And we’re going to do a better job than the state did.”
County supervisors didn’t disagree. But they’ve heard complaints from Vallejo residents concerned about establishing such a center in their midst.
“Vallejoans ask, ‘Why Vallejo?’ ” resident Doug Darling told the board. “We think we’re being dumped on.”
Supervisors questioned why the county didn’t do more public outreach to explain the proposed project to the community. Supervisor Jim Spering said that, while the center would be a positive thing for Solano County, the county hasn’t done a lot to put a positive face on it.
The board decided to hold a Vallejo community meeting, perhaps Nov. 14, and delayed voting on the day reporting center for at least a month.
These parolees are in the Vallejo community, whether there’s a center or not, project officials said. They are already going to the Probation Department near the Tuolumne Street site.
“We’re not bringing additional criminals to Vallejo,” Hansen said.
Parolees would go to the center for programs designed to change the way they view and deal with life. They would learn job skills and get help for substance abuse.
“The ultimate goal is to make them crime-free, to reduce recidivism, to make our community safer,” said project consultant Thomas White, who has helped put together 17 such centers.
Supervisor Mike Reagan asked what type of recidivism reduction might be expected “in this hard-boiled population.”
Officials working on the project said that some studies point to 30 percent and higher, but that the 10 percent range might be more realistic. Even that would have a big effect, given the number of crimes these people commit, they said.
“This is a population that is ravaging the communities,” Hansen said. “The state is putting them back into the counties. Now it’s up to us to do something to get them back on the straight and narrow.”
The facility is to serve 75 people at any one time. Reagan calculated the per-person cost at $21,000 annually if the center served 75 people over the course of the year, though it’s supposed to serve more. Even so, this is less money than it would cost to put the people in jail if they reoffend, he said.
The Solano County Probation Department is to oversee the day reporting center, with help from county Health and Social Services. The center is to have the equivalent of 5.5 full-time positions. A supervising deputy probation officer would serve as manager and oversee the program, a county report said.
Solano County has explored establishing the day reporting center for months through its Community Corrections Partnership. Members include officials from the county Probation Department, Solano County Superior Court, the county administrator’s office, the District Attorney’s Office, county Mental Health, the Office of Family Violence and Prevention and the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, among other agencies and groups.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.