The County’s Criminal Justice departments and their partners in the local jurisdictions and Courts are well prepared to deal with this new population. Napa County has been developing evidence-based “alternatives to incarceration” for several years. These practices have been shown to reduce reoffending rates and have served to keep the Jail population manageable.
In addition to using programs the County already has in place, such as the Community Corrections Service Center, which offers evidence-based treatment and counseling programs to offenders, and the ability to place people on electronic monitoring and home detention, staff has been working for several months to develop a response to the changes Realignment will bring.
The result is the Napa County Public Safety Realignment and Post Release Community Supervision 2011 Implementation Plan. The Plan is governed by the primary responsibility of criminal justice agencies: to protect the community, provide due process to the accused, and punish those who deserve it.
Because of the increased number of offenders the County will be responsible for, it will likely be necessary to find alternatives to incarceration in order to safely manage the Jail population. The adoption of alternatives to incarceration will be governed by the following criteria:
1. Assuring the safety of Napa County citizens.
2. Assuring punishment consistent with the deterrent and retributive functions of law enforcement.
3. Implementing programs or policy shown to produce a reduction in recidivism (rate of reoffending).
4. Assuring that a program will be cost effective and meet the needs of Napa County.
The County’s Plan provides a framework for managing both the new and existing offender populations and introducing new programs and alternatives to incarceration. The approach laid out in the Plan includes four broad strategies:
Pre-trial Release: Defendants housed in the jail awaiting trial typically constitute between 60% and 70% of the jail’s population on a given day. Rather than wait in jail for their trial, some defendants may be eligible to return to the community while they wait for their court hearing, with varying levels of supervision, which may include drug testing, probation supervision, electronic monitoring and use of a day-reporting center.
lternative Sanctions/Programs for Sentenced Offenders: Over the last 10 to 20 years, a considerable body of research has shown that certain programs and sanctions, when applied appropriately to the right groups of offenders, can cost-effectively control offenders in the community while, in some cases, reducing offender recidivism (reoffending). If appropriate, some offenders may be required to participate in education and treatment programs instead of serving time in jail. Sanctions/supervision may include electronic monitoring, home detention, work release, day reporting with or without programs, and, potentially, confinement alternatives, such as a staff-secure residential facility.
Alternative Probation Violation Sanctions: A preliminary analysis of jail bookings in 2010 showed that jail inmates whose most serious charge was a violation of probation accounted for approximately 39 beds on average during the year. Until recently, the primary sanction for probation violations was jail time. The Plan calls for using a matrix of sanctions and rewards, ranging from counseling through “flash incarceration” to revocation of community status.
Post-Prison Transition Plan: To deal with the 70 or so inmates who will be released from State prison to the County Probation Department, the Plan calls for creating a multidisciplinary team to assess each offender prior to their return to the community and determine their appropriate supervision level and program needs.
The County and its Criminal Justice partners will continually review the effectiveness of new programs to ensure they are providing the desired outcomes for the County.
The Public Safety Realignment and Post Release Community Supervision 2011 Implementation Plan is scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors for approval on Oct. 11, 2011.