As the state looks to decrease its prison population, the hot topic is how to reduce recidivism rates, as (at least in Santa Barbara County) 70 percent of people who spend time in prison reoffend within three years of their release. With statistics like that in mind, Sheriff Bill Brown is hopeful the state will cover the costs of an area day reporting center, a program designed to decrease recidivism rates and get former prisoners on the road to recovery. The day centers are designed to be a one-stop shop to teach ex-cons a series of life skills that they might have never received. Even if they have acquired life skills, the real world can be sobering for many former inmates when they go from making a minimal amount of daily decisions inside prison to perhaps hundreds on the outside, including where to live, work, and sleep.
From drug and alcohol counseling, to job training, anger management therapy, and placement and development programs, these centers would help people reenter society and ideally become contributing members. The result would be a reduced impact on victims, on the justice system, and on the prison overpopulation problem. The strategy would also hopefully help reduce Santa Barbara County Jail’s much-publicized overcrowding problem, which has been present for decades. Brown is proposing two day reporting centers, one at each end of the county, overseen by his department but operated by a private vendor or nonprofit. He was confident the state would be able to reimburse the county for the costs, as the county currently is evaluating proposals from different vendors. Brown will return to the board to review plans for a final approval.