I can write best about my own reentry court in San Francisco. I can’t compare it to any other California Pilot Parole Reentry Court, because all six counties with pilot parole reentry courts have taken different paths. One has built its court with participants who have been been placed on probation for new offenses and start out their program in county jail, others built their programs based on the proven track record of their other existing collaborative courts, another creates an informal atmosphere where participants are ushered into the court room personally by the judge to sit across a table from judge and team members.
I find this a particularly good time to write about our program as we are in the tenth month of program development, and we have learned a good deal about the reentry court process. We have chosen to build our program from the ground up, and not rely on existing structures. That has forced us to reconsider conventional drug court wisdom and rely on our own expertise, experience, and importantly, evidence based research in building our program.
It’s also a good time to look back, because there may not be a San Francisco Parole Reentry Court, nor any California Parole Reentry Court after Governor Brown’s “Prison Realignment” on July 1st. This is hard to accept as we have worked hard building a program based on “evidence-based principles” and an evolving community environment and have watched it mature into a successful reentry court model . These are difficult times for reentry courts and the california criminal justice system in general. We hope for the best.