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Work Release Facility: Alternative To Incarceration

    Subject of Investigation

    The Sheriff's Department has two alternatives to incarceration: (1) a Work Project Program, and (2) a Home Detention Program. These programs were designed to relieve jail overcrowding, reduce costs and generate revenue, while holding law violators accountable and still protecting the community. Participants pay a significant part of the program costs.

    Reason for Investigation

    California Penal Code section 919(b) requires the Grand Jury to inquire annually into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county. An essential element of these inquiries is an inspection tour of each facility.

    Procedures

The Grand Jury visited the Work Release facility, interviewed staff and reviewed documents.

    Findings

    The Sheriff’s Department has two alternatives to incarceration: (1) a Work Project Program, and (2) a Home Detention Program. These programs were designed to relieve jail overcrowding, reduce costs and generate revenue, while holding law violators accountable and still protecting the community. Participants pay a significant part of the program costs.

    California Penal Code section 919(b) requires the Grand Jury to inquire annually into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county. An essential element of these inquiries is an inspection tour of each facility.

    The Grand Jury visited the Work Release facility, interviewed staff and reviewed documents.

    Background

    In 1978, the Sheriff's Work Project Program was created. Sentenced prisoners were allowed to remain out of custody, serving their sentence in community service through established work programs.

    The current Work Release Facility was opened on May 2, 1985 to move the Work Furlough Program and the Work Project Program from the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. The county leased the land and built the facility to house the work furlough inmates and the Work Release Program. The purpose of the transition was to reduce security problems by separating work furlough inmates from full custody inmates.

    In 1992, budget constraints forced the closure of the Work Furlough Program. The Work Project Program continued and the Home Detention Program was established. These two cost-effective alternatives to incarceration reduce costs, relieve jail overcrowding and generate revenue, while continuing to hold law violators accountable and still protecting the community. The program participants pay a significant portion of the program costs.

    The Work Release Facility staff appeared to be professional and dedicated. Their philosophy was to help inmates succeed as opposed to focusing on failure. The staff was knowledgeable and responsive to Grand Jury requests.

    The Work Project Program.

    The Work Project Program allows low-risk sentenced inmates with less than 60 days of net sentence, to fulfill their sentence obligation. Inmates are screened and those who meet specific eligibility requirements, pay an initial $43.00 application fee and a daily fee of $20.00 to offset program costs. Participants are monitored for their attitude, dress and productivity. Currently, the program has an 84% success rate. Program failures are returned to jail.

    There are 22 entities receiving the benefits of work performed by program participants. The California Penal Code limits the use of inmate labor to public domain and nonprofit entities. There are five public entity contracts for services, with each entity paying the costs of the Deputy's supervision. A Sheriff's Deputy supervises all job sites.

    Work Project participants may also be assigned to the Sheriff's Toy Project, in which they make or repair toys. The toys are then donated to social service agencies, needy families, and crime victims. Last year the Toy Project provided 4,600 gifts, with nearly 70% being distributed during the Christmas holidays. This project gives inmates the opportunity to give back to their community while serving their sentence.

    The Work Project Program has an education component that is operated with the Grant School District. This program requires 24 hours of classroom instruction designed to give participants "Life Skills and Job Preparedness" training. The classes do not include courses in Anger Management, Domestic Violence or Victim Impact.

    There is a new pilot project underway in Elk Grove, which identifies ways to improve the community through use of inmate labor. This pilot uses a Neighborhood Accountability Board to oversee the program services.

    The Home Detention Program

    Home Detention is for low-risk inmates with a sentence of 30 days to one year. This program allows inmates to continue their employment, education, or medical care as an alternative to confinement. An electronic monitor allows the inmates to move about their residence and to meet pre-scheduled job and medical appointments. The monitoring entity is promptly notified if there is tampering with the equipment or a violation of the limits. Violations are immediately reported to the Sheriff's Department for response and investigation. Inmates eligible for the program pay a $43.00 application fee and a maximum daily fee of $25.00 to offset program costs. The inmates are randomly tested for drug and alcohol use. The program has a successful completion rate of 71%.

    Ninety percent of program participants are gainfully employed with ten percent in the program for medical reasons. It is less costly for Sheriff's Home Detention prisoners with special medical needs to receive their treatment and medication outside the jail setting.

    Payment Procedures

    Inmates in both the Work Release and Home Detention Programs are charged based on the inmate's ability to pay and the amount charged is adjusted accordingly. The Revenue Collections Unit works out a payment plan for each participant. Failure to meet their financial obligation may result in the termination of an inmate's participation in the program.

    The savings for these alternatives compared to incarceration programs are significant. There is a net cost for these programs of approximately $8 per inmate day, while it costs $61.03 per inmate day to house an inmate in the Main Jail, and $56.70 at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.

    The cost and the revenue generated by both programs is as follows:

· Work Release has a current annual budget of $4,030,871 and generates revenues of $2,741,012
· Home Detention has a current annual budget of $2,450,000 and generates $1,165,026

    Recommendations

    1. If the evaluation of the community services pilot project in Elk Grove indicates that there are community benefits, it should be expanded into other Sheriff service districts as resources are made available.

    2. A tracking effort should be established to determine the effectiveness of the educational components of the Work Project.

    3. The curriculum of the educational program at the Work Release Program should be expanded to include classes on Anger Management, Domestic Violence and Victim Impact.

    4. The Home Detention Program for inmates in need of special and/or long term medical treatment should continue be utilized whenever feasible.

    5. The Work Release Project should be utilized to the maximum degree possible. The programs should be audited for continuing effectiveness and adherence to the established policies and procedures for utilization. If the need for expansion is justified, the programs should be expanded consistent with the identified need.

    6. The Work Project and the Home Detention Project should develop a program to keep statistics on their recidivism rates.

    7. The Life Skills-Job Preparedness educational program should be made available to inmates in all county facilities. Further, the curriculum of the educational program should be expanded to include classes on Anger Management, Domestic Violence and Victim Impact.

    Response Required

    The Penal Code requires that responses to the recommendations contained in this Report shall be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 29, 2000, from:

      · The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department

1999/2000 Sacramento County Grand Jury - Final Report (Internet Version) June 30, 2000

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