Consistent with his number one priority to protect the public’s safety, Governor Schwarzenegger today signed SB 943 by Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden) that creates the first secure community re-entry facility. Aimed at rehabilitating prisoners and reducing recidivism and dangerous prison overcrowding, re-entry facilities are a central part of AB 900, the bipartisan measure approved earlier this year to reform California’s prison system. The $7.7 billion comprehensive plan will add 53,000 beds throughout the state.
“When I signed our historic prison reform bill in May, a cornerstone of that plan was 16,000 new beds in secure re-entry facilities. This is a big day for California because this bill creates our first secure re-entry facility and it jumpstarts our prison reform program,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This facility in Stockton, and others like it across California, will house inmates who are close to their release date and give them the counseling, services, job training and housing placement help that they need to return to society as law-abiding citizens.”
SB 943 authorizes the Northern California Women’s Facility (NCWF) in Stockton to be utilized as a secure community re-entry facility. In addition to receiving legislative approval, the effort to convert this site has received strong local support with both the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and Stockton City Council approving resolutions to utilize NCWF as a re-entry facility.
The comprehensive corrections reforms in AB 900 will address severe inmate overcrowding at state prisons and local jails by funding new beds tied to rehabilitation and creating secure re-entry facilities in the local communities where inmates will be returning. The measure provides for 16,000 new beds in secure community re-entry facilities, with a maximum of 500 beds at each facility where inmates will be housed in their final months prior to release. They improve community public safety also by re-uniting families and by providing job skills related to the local economy.
“Inmates too often leave prison with $200 minus the cost of a bus ticket, and no prospects for success once they return home,” said James Tilton, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “The goal of a secure community re-entry facility is to ease the transition of local residents and improve public safety.”
The facilities will provide programs and services such as: intensive substance abuse treatment; vocational training and job placement; education and GED coursework; anger management classes; family counseling; housing placement; and targeted services to help ease the transition from incarceration to a crime-free life on the outside.
The Governor also created two strike teams to expedite implementation of AB 900. Composed of nationally recognized rehabilitation and prison construction experts, one strike team will ensure that CDCR has the programs and resources to make rehabilitation a high priority; the other team will expedite the construction of correctional facilities.
Secure community re-entry facilities will enable the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and local communities to create an unprecedented continuity of care to provide support services. Re-entry facilities will be built in cities, counties or regions willing to partner with CDCR, to assist local residents who are required to be returned to their county of last legal residence upon release.