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Calaveras officials back regional re-entry prison July 16, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Thought you’d find some info from California interesting

SAN ANDREAS – Convicts nearing the end of their prison terms and getting ready to re-enter civilian life in San Joaquin, Calaveras and Amador counties might someday find themselves in a single regional rehabilitation prison.

Calaveras County Sheriff Dennis Downum on Tuesday said he would meet that afternoon with his peers from San Joaquin and Amador counties to begin talks on where and how such a re-entry facility might be built.

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-0 with Supervisor Merita Callaway absent to give their blessing to Downum’s efforts to negotiate with state officials for funding for a new Calaveras County Jail and for a prison re-entry facility.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in April signed AB900, a prison reform bill that calls for constructing 40,000 new prison beds, including 16,000 beds in so-called “re-entry” facilities, generally smaller, community-based prisons with an emphasis on rehabilitating inmates so they have a better chance of making it in the outside world.

State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton met with San Joaquin County leaders in early April to discuss the possibility of reopening the shuttered women’s prison outside Stockton to male prisoners. The proposed re-entry facility would house felons from the area for the final year of their sentences, providing job training and rehabilitation in the process.

Many San Joaquin County officials are opposed to allowing male prisoners into the shuttered prison, however. Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Doug Wilhoit in April proposed the facility instead be turned into a vocational high school, and county Supervisor Steve Gutierrez has questioned whether the “re-entry” proposal is a mirage to funnel more state prisoners into the county.

Currently, about 172,000 inmates are housed in state prisons that were designed to hold about 100,000. In addition to the new prison beds, AB900 also calls for 13,000 new beds in locally run jails, raising the hopes of counties such as Calaveras, whose 45-year-old jail is too small to hold most of those sentenced to serve time there.




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