By Nadino Ono.
Next month, millions of dollars in funding will be awarded by the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to counties across the state as part of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, otherwise known as Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014. In their funding applications, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Cruz counties included data from a jail analysis completed on their respective county by CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative (J-SCI).
According to Prop 47, funding will be awarded to “public agencies aimed at supporting mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and diversion programs for people in the criminal justice system, with an emphasis on programs that reduce recidivism of people convicted of less serious crimes, such as those covered by this measure, and those who have substance abuse and mental health problems.”
“The JUS (jail study) data was used to identify possible areas for system improvements and to begin to think ‘outside of the box’ to identify alternatives to incarceration and reduce reliance on jail,” said Deborah Johnson, the deputy director of forensics for the Department of Behavioral Health at the Riverside University Health System.
Johnson added that Riverside County focused on three types of offenders in the grant application:
Offenders identified as eligible for diversion by the Riverside County Veterans Court who are reluctant to receive and are found to be ineligible for services from the Veterans Administration.
Those identified by Probation who struggle with daily functioning due to mental health/substance use issues and are high risk for criminal justice contact.
Homeless or inadequately housed adults whose untreated mental health/substance use disorders contribute to both their homelessness and their contact with the criminal justice system.
“The JUS data allowed for our team to provide in-depth data rather than estimates,” said Chief Deputy
Steve Carney of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department. “The readily available data provided specific information for our recent grant request, as well as other time sensitive data requests. The data identified potential factors contributing toward recidivism and allowed our staff to develop programs directed toward reducing those contributing factors.”
“We’re eagerly awaiting notification of the grant award in relation to our Proposition 47 grant proposal and the Jail Utilization Study (JUS) data was critical to its development and planning for its development,” said Scott Rigsby, a public health program manager for San Bernardino County. “We applied for several vital services such as housing, mental health, and substance abuse services. CA Fwd and the JUS data will be critical in planning as we move forward, hopefully with program implementation post-award.”
“It is gratifying to see that the jail studies are not only showing how the criminal justice systems in different counties can work more efficiently, but also giving those counties tools to access funding to make those changes,” said Jim Mayer, president and CEO of CA Fwd.
The BSCC will administer the grants through an Executive Steering Committee, which includes subject matter experts and stakeholders from both the public and private sector. Announcement of funding will occur in June and the grants will begin in July.