With all the interest in California in the return of prisoners to county jurisdiction, it’s important to remember that there is already a major pilot project involving six counties providing supervision treatment and rehabilitation services to high risk offenders with substance abuse and/or mental health problems.
The six California pilot Reentry Courts have been around almost a full year and are beginning to provide evaluation data. While still very early in their development, they report very encouraging results. California reports an overall recidivism rate of 70%. Santa Clara county has been reported to have a recidivism rate of just 20% (Santa Clara County Press Release), while San Joaquin County reports a recidivism rate of 29% (Stockton Record). Data from other counties are not available yet, but expected to be positive.
As California prepares its “prisoner realignment” back to the counties, we shouldn’t forget or neglect the promising results that the pilot reentry courts are showing and the efficacy of the reentry court model.