By Nicole Jones
On Tuesday, Kadar said at least 50 percent of the budget would go the sheriff’s office for staffing and jail management. Part of this budget also includes electronic monitoring and mental health court. Then 22 percent of the budget funds will go toward probation for supervision, with about 20 percent for health services like outpatient services and drug treatment.
“There’s nothing concrete about this plan,” Kadar said, adding that the committee will be meeting every 30 days to review the plan and discuss potential changes that need to be made.
With October 1st rapidly approaching, Kadar emphasized the importance of submitting a first phase budget plan for the Board to vote on. No probation officers, public defenders, or other positions can be appropriated without a budget passed by the Board.
“This effort is a blue print,” Kadar said. “We’re trying to put together a framework that we think it will give us an idea of what we need to do immediately.”
In the next month, Contra Costa County expects to receive about 20 post-release inmates from prison, which would have happened with or without realignment. The difference now is that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will no longer have jurisdiction over any person who is under post-release community supervision. All parole revocations will be served in county jail instead of state prison and will now be limited to 180 days, instead of year. Only offenders previously sentenced to a term of life can be sent back to prison.
Also new, is people who violate their probation will be punished by “flash incarceration,” or immediate periods of additional jail time of at most ten days. With the certainty of punishment for parole violations, Kadar said they plan to use this tool as a way to deter recidivism.
Like many other counties, Contra Costa is taking a close look at what they have to work with. Several community members in the audience Tuesday night urged the county to collaborate with non-profits and criminal justice organizations that provide reentry services like housing, job training and drug treatment.
“There’s a belief that we can do a better job as locality in providing services to people,” Kadar said in agreement, adding that the only hold back is that the county, like most others, lack the state dollars to expand their rehabilitation services.
The committee argued that the current formula the state is using to determine how much money counties should get is flawed. Because Contra Costa has a history of not spending a lot of money on sending people to state prison, they’ll receive less money from the state for implementing AB109 locally.
Unlike San Mateo County, Contra Costa is not worried about a lack of bed jail bed space. Between the two county facilities, there are about 190 vacant medium-security and transitional beds.
But with more inmates being absorbed in the county jail over the next few months, Michael Casten Undersheriff for Contra Costa Sheriff Department said they’ll need to build solutions inside for separating out dangerous people for breaking up gang members. Even before AB109, a needs assessment a couple of years ago made the case that Contra Costa jails needed beds within a mixture of classification. Casten said the sheriff’s office will submit a letter of intent for AB900, or lease-revenue bond financing, for jail construction within their existing facilities.
“We don’t have an option to wait,” Casten said, adding that although they have vacant beds, they’ll continue to have capacity issues until they can properly house inmates by their classification.
The next community meeting is tonight 7-9pm at the Richmond City Council Chambers.
Civic Center Campus
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804