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Pauli Halstead: Nevada County Community Corrections Strategic Plan – 2022-23

In 2011, AB 109, the Public Safety and Realignment Act, was passed to reduce prison overcrowding in California by sending non-violent felons to counties for supervision. Since then the Nevada County Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) has taken responsibility for supervising these felons in our community.

To offset the costs of supervision, the State allocates Realignment Funds to each county. Since 2011 Nevada County has spent $28,019,388 to supposedly reduce recidivism and promote public safety. The CCP Executive Committee is tasked with deciding budget allocations and collecting data on which to base those budget decisions. But is this working and where is the data?

The CCP Executive Committee, and the crafters of the Strategic Plan and budget, are Jeff Goldman, Chief Probation Officer; Sheriff Shannan Moon; Jesse Wilson, District Attorney; Ryan Gruver, Health & Human Services Director; Alex Gammelgard, Chief, GVPD; Keri Klein, Public Defender; and Tonya Clark, Court Operations Director.

In the 2022-23 Strategic Plan and budget, $3,280,879 was allocated out of State Funds supposedly to be used for Mental Health Therapy, Substance Abuse Treatment, Recovery Housing, Education, Vocational Training, Eligibility Assessments and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, geared towards achieving necessary reductions in recidivism.

However, out of the new budget, zero was allocated for education, vocational training, one stop employment, anti-addiction meds, referrals and services, or a public health nurse. In addition, only $2,000 was allocated Medical/Dental/Alcohol monitoring. Recovery housing was down $20,000 from the previous year. Total in-patient and out-patient treatment was only $125,000. Curiously there is no data on how many are enrolled in treatment. There is also no data on how many felons are homeless.

The question becomes, how does the 2022-23 budget address needs associated with healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation when there is little to no budget for them, and no data on who is enrolled in the programs?

In addressing recidivism, the Strategic Plan states, “Nevada County has reduced recidivism rates and improved reintegration of AB109 individuals into local communities. Good public safety policy involves community supervision, focused evidenced based treatment/rehabilitation, and accountability.” However, there is no data on the Probation website, or in the Strategic plan, which measures exactly how recidivism has been reduced or showing where there is improved integration into the community, especially with homeless felons.

The Strategic Plan states: “A key to monitoring and reporting outcomes is reliability of data. Data tracking and analysis tools previously available within Nevada County were limited, and historical data was incomplete, making it difficult to establish any baseline against which to measure future outcomes. Efforts towards data development, analysis and establishment of baseline measures continue.”

Unfortunately, there is still no data in the Strategic Plan in which to establish a baseline.

The Probation Department is supposed to be reporting statistical data regarding trends with case plans and report what trends are occurring so that the CCP can appropriately address the current and evolving needs of this population. Again, there is no data reported which a CCP member can access.

Nevada County is mandated and responsible for adopting evidence-based programing in the jail, which would address the needs of felon inmates prior to their release. There is no data on exactly what types of evidence-based programs are in place or how many are enrolled.

A main problem has is when felons are released back into the community; to be monitored by the probation department while awaiting sentencing. A pre-trial program which assesses whether the community would be safe with them back on the street is critical, but how well is this working, if there is no medical diagnosis or treatment plan in place when the judge makes the decision to release them?

Mandatory Supervision: “Case management supervision consists of a risk needs-assessment, risk-based supervision strategies and intensive supervision of high-risk individuals in the community.”

In 2021 I tracked felons arrested with a potential of serious mental illness or drug addiction. My six-month data revealed a policy of releasing felons rapidly back into our community. Seventy percent were homeless. More shockingly, seventy-four percent were released from custody in a day or two, without a risk-needs assessment, medical diagnosis, or treatment plan.

The public deserves a better use of realignment funds. It’s time for the CCP Executive Committee to commit more of the budget to treatment, recovery housing, education and job training. We need improved budgeting and data collection performance from our Community Corrections Partnership. Is our CCP Executive Committee really committed to the Strategic Plan?

Pauli Halstead

Nevada City