San Mateo County is supervising 15 percent more former state parolees than anticipated and many of those at risk of re-offending refuse the local treatment programs and services offered to help them assimilate back into the community and reduce the chance of recidivism.
According to a county manager’s quarterly report on public safety realignment, 87 percent of the supervisees — prison inmates released to the supervision of their home county rather than state parole — are at high or moderate risk of re-offending, 64 percent need substance abuse treatment and 26 percent need mental health treatment. But the majority will not take them or other services, according to the report which looked at the demographics between April and June. Realignment is the shifting of state prisoners to counties in a cost-cutting move by the state.
Since the Oct. 1 start of realignment, the Probation Department has overseen 260 supervisees total and 45 have been released since January of this year. The state had projected San Mateo County would get an average of 25 per month but the local numbers the first nine months of the shift have running about 15 percent higher and 351 supervisees should be in county care by September 2013 when realignment is fully implemented.
The higher trend is not a big surprise and the Probation Department received enough funding from the state to cover the extra people, said Legislative Coordinator Connie Juarez-Diroll who will deliver the report to county supervisors Tuesday.
What was surprising is the number of supervised individuals who refuse treatment and services, she said.
"It shows the greater push the staff is going to have trying to engage them and make sure they are taking the anger management classes they need or getting ready for a job,” Juarez-Diroll said.
A number of the programs and services are coordinated through Service Connect, which is run by the health and human services agencies to provide the recently released with safety nets like housing, food stamps, substance abuse treatment and job training.
The local implementation report offers a snapshot of these supervisees and offenders of non-violent and non-sexual offenses who now serve their sentences in jail rather than prison.
For example, of the total supervisees, 26 percent have new arrest warrants for failing to appear at the Probation Department as mandated, 19 percent have been arrested for new offenses and 7 percent had their probation revoked. This population is "overwhelmingly” men between the ages of 26 and 33 and 15 percent are homeless. Many of the supervisees are from Redwood City and East Palo Alto, with homeless being the third largest category.
Since October, 170 inmates have been sentenced locally which led to a 53 percent increase in sentenced days at the already-overcrowded county jail — a reason why the sheriff and jail planning team say a new planned correctional facility in the county needs to happen sooner rather than later. This population is 82 percent male and 31 percent are between the ages of 30 and 39. More than a fifth are voluntarily receiving chemical dependency treatment and the recidivism rate is 19 percent.
Juarez-Diroll said the real costs of realignment will be penciled out this fiscal year since it is the first full cycle and the Sheriff’s Office asked for funding which it did not previously. The county received $4.8 million in fiscal year 2011-2012 and is scheduled to receive $13.8 million for the next two fiscal years.
The Probation Department and County Manager’s Office are also looking beyond the county structure, jointly offering $1 million in realignment money to community-based organizations for projects and programs targeting recidivism. To date, $1.7 million in applications have been received.
"The point here is to be as innovative as possible and generate some really good ideas,” Juarez-Diroll said.
Michelle Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.