Fifth Anniversary Highlights Center’s Ongoing Efforts and Accomplishments
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— Since its founding in 2012, the County of Santa Clara Reentry Resource Center has created opportunities for more than 10,000 residents reentering the community from jail or prison. The Center celebrated its fifth anniversary on February 23rd with more than 200 elected and public officials, county and community partners, clients, former clients and residents.
The County of Santa Clara Reentry Resource Center has grown on a number of fronts. It now has partnerships with more than 75 community, faith-based and County departments; it has established college-credit courses both in the jails and in the community; a growing number of large employers are recruiting clients from the Center; and the Center’s South County satellite office has expanded its services and will move to a larger office in Gilroy in the next few months.
“Our Reentry Center’s innovative approach has a proven record of success,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Chair of the Santa Clara County Reentry Network. “Our county recidivism rate, reported in 2015, is 34% – just about half of the national rate of 61%.”
That 34% percent, reported by Resource Development Associates, is part of a pool of 3,742 individuals who became the responsibility of the County as a result of the 2011 passage of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act, (AB109). It transferred jurisdiction and funding for managing lower-level criminal offenders from the State level to the county level. The County of Santa Clara built an Adult Reentry Network designed to reduce the rate of recidivism, or re-offenses, through providing supportive services and resources to offenders, both during custody and post-release.
President Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, highlighted peer mentors as one of the most effective investments the county has made in reentry services. Mentors who have been through the criminal justice system and been trained as counselors, are better able to build trust with clients, stand as examples and give them hope for what is possible if they persevere and take advantage of the opportunities and support available to them.
“This is the year of compassion for Santa Clara County and the Reentry Resource Center is promoting dignity and teaching empowerment with each individual client,” Cortese said.
Supervisor Mike Wasserman, Chair of the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee, said there was unanimous board support for creation of the Reentry Resource Center from the beginning. He commended the
Center for growing the number of clients it serves annually from less than 1,000 in 2012 to more than 5,000 in 2016.
“I want to thank everyone here for working to help people change their lives,” said Supervisor Wasserman.
“Many individuals and employers in the past thought that people recently released from jail or prison had committed serious crimes,” added County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “But most of the time their crimes are related to drugs and alcohol, and people who have committed those kinds of offenses can be rehabilitated.”
County of Santa Clara Reentry Resource Center clients get help with everything from the basic necessities such as public transportation vouchers, food and clothing, to healthcare, substance use, mental illness, faith-based support, vocational training, employment, housing, legal services and tools for building emotional well-being. These services have contributed to lowering the recidivism rate for Santa Clara County AB109 clients significantly below the state recidivism rate.
A large part of the success of the program is the coordination between law enforcement, County and community services, making a much smoother transition for clients from jail or prison to services in the community.
The Keynote speaker for the fifth anniversary celebration of the County of Santa Clara Reentry Resource Center was Reverend Earl Smith, former Chaplain for San Quentin State Prison. He is the current Team Chaplain for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, and author of Death Row Chaplain: Unbelievable True Stories from America’s Most Notorious Prison.
“I have traveled a lot and seen a lot of programs,” Reverend Smith told the audience during the fifth year celebration. “Santa Clara County, you have the gold standard for reentry,” he said.
Reentry Resource Center Five-year highlights
- Served more than 10,000 clients over the last five years
- Built partnerships with more than 75 community and faith-based organizations and county departments
- Created a pilot satellite Reentry Center in San Martin – which is moving to a more permanent and accessible location in Gilroy in a few months
- Established in-custody, college-credit courses at Elmwood Correctional Facility in 2016
- Initiated the development of an Alcohol and Drug Studies course with a local community college to prepare clients to become peer mentors
- Was awarded a 2016 Innovation Fund grant from the MacArthur Foundation