Recidivism Reduction & Reentry

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Endorses Legislation to Reduce Recidivism

June 21, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Today Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced her support for two legislative proposals, Senate Bill 1157 and Assembly Bill 1597, that would help individuals reintegrate into their communities and avoid return to custody. 

“We must hold criminals accountable for their crimes, but our criminal justice system should also provide tools and support individuals in their efforts to successfully reenter society and rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Senator Mitchell and Assemblymember Stone for championing ‘smart on crime’ bills that will curb recidivism and help inmates get their lives back on track.”

Senate Bill 1157, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles), would guarantee that city and county correctional facilities that elect to utilize video and electronic visitation also provide a certain number of in-person visits for their inmates.  Research shows that in-person visits are a crucial component of successful rehabilitation and reentry, and cultivating positive influencers in the inmates’ lives has been integral to Attorney General Harris’ recidivism reduction pilot program, Back on Track-Los Angeles.  SB 1157 will be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee this morning, Tuesday, June 21.

Assembly Bill 1597, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey), would enable inmates in county jail who have not yet been sentenced to earn credit reductions toward any resulting sentence by participating in rehabilitative programs and completing performance objectives known as “milestones.”  The bill would further specify that an inmate’s participation in such a program could not be used as evidence of guilt in court.  Under current law, only inmates who have been sentenced are eligible to participate in these programs and earn time off of their confinement.  Studies show that inmates who receive educational and vocational training are much less likely to return to prison and much more likely to succeed upon reentry into the community.  AB 1597 was enrolled to the Governor on Friday, June 17, and awaits his signature.

Attorney General Harris has been a longtime leader in the fight to curb recidivism in California. In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created the original Back on Track initiative, a reentry program that aimed to reduce recidivism rates of low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  The program successfully reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent over a two-year period and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a model for law enforcement.

In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry within the California Department of Justice. The office partners with counties, District Attorneys and other community stakeholders to create effective practices and policy initiatives to address recidivism. The Division has developed a statewide definition of recidivism, identified grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs, and used technology to more effectively analyze recidivism metrics and data.

In 2015, Attorney General Harris launched Back on Track-Los Angeles, a pilot program in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other public and private-sector partners to curb recidivism.  Back on Track-LA provides participants with the services and support needed for a seamless transition from in-custody to out-of-custody life, including cognitive behavioral therapy and academic and career-technical training while in custody and employment, housing and continuing education opportunities after release.

Photo Release: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Visits Pitchess Detention Center, Recognizes 53 Back on Track LA Participants

January 5, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today visited Pitchess Detention Facility to recognize 53 participants of Back on Track LA, an innovative recidivism reduction partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department, local community colleges, a local charter school and private foundations.  

The comprehensive anti-recidivism initiative works to hold offenders accountable, while preparing them to re-enter society as contributing and law-abiding members of their communities. The Attorney General was joined at Pitchess by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and representatives from state and local government, as well as education and community organizations.

“Reducing recidivism is key to a smart-on-crime approach to criminal justice,” Attorney General Harris said. “These individuals have had the courage to change by taking responsibility for their actions and admitting to themselves and others that their old patterns of behavior no longer work. By giving them practical tools and holding them accountable to their communities, families and themselves, Back on Track LA is providing participants the skills to become contributing and law-abiding members of society, which enhances public safety and embraces the participants’ redemptive qualities.”

Back on Track LA is composed of approximately 80 participants— all male “triple nons": non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders— and is housed in LA County. The initiative was designed to provide the participants with the critical services needed for a seamless transition from in-custody to out-of-custody life, targeting the time offenders are most likely to recidivate.

The in-custody program consists of four training tracks that include cognitive behavior training, education (academic and career-technical), life skills and re-entry training. The in-custody program also provides additional child support services, family services, identification, health services, and tattoo removal. 

The out-of-custody program comprises three main components: employment, housing and continuing education opportunities. As part of the program, an Employment Advisory Board has been created to assist inmates with job placement post-release.

In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created within the California Department of Justice the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, an office designed to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties, District Attorneys, and other community stakeholders on best practices and policy initiatives. The new division has developed a statewide definition of recidivism, identified grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs, and used technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Photos from today's event can be found below:

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Visits Pitchess Detention Center, Recognizes 53 Back on Track LA Participants

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Visits Pitchess Detention Center, Recognizes 53 Back on Track LA Participants

High-resolution copies of these images are attached to the onine version of this news release at oag.ca.gov/news.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces L.A. Area Recidivism Programs to Receive Grants Totaling Over $1.7 Million

July 10, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that two programs affiliated with the California Department of Justice’s efforts to reduce recidivism have been awarded grants totaling over $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Judicial Council of California. Both initiatives work in partnership with the California DOJ’s Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-entry.

“These grants will support innovative initiatives that hold offenders accountable and connect them with the opportunities and tools they need to rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “The grants are a critical investment in developing data and metrics to evaluate smart on crime initiatives and the long-term safety of our communities. I thank the U.S. Department of Labor and the Judicial Council of California for supporting our efforts to shut the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”

The DOJ Division of Recidivism, Reduction and Re-entry worked to secure both grant proposals and will provide technical assistance and evaluation of the programs that are being funded.

Friends Outside in Los Angeles County, Inc. will receive $1,360,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor for a program that provides assistance in gaining industry-recognized credentials and securing employment for individuals transitioning back into their communities. The Attorney General’s office will work with the organization to provide technical assistance in the planning, implementation, and collection of performance metrics of the program, and will also host a collaborative Employment Advisory board.

The Judicial Council of California awarded $417,969 to “Court to College,” an alternative sentencing program that is a collaborative effort between the Attorney General’s Division of Recidivism, Reduction and Re-Entry, Los Angeles County Superior Court Norwalk, Los Angeles County Probation, Cerritos Community College, Los Angeles County District Attorney, and Los Angeles County Public Defender. “Court to College” works to reduce recidivism through education, employment and addressing substance abuse issues.

Attorney General Harris has a career-long commitment to recidivism reduction work. In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, an office designed to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives.

In March, the Attorney General announced the launch of “Back on Track LA,” a public-private recidivism reduction program developed in partnership with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department, local community colleges, a local charter school and private foundations. The initiative was funded in part by a $750,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act. It was one of only four initiatives in the country to receive this grant.

In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a re-entry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model program for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Recipients of Inaugural Smart on Crime Awards at Recidivism Reduction Roundtable

July 8, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the recipients of the inaugural Smart on Crime Awards for their excellence in working to reduce recidivism in California. The five awards were presented at a roundtable discussion that brought together partners from across the state to discuss innovative solutions to lowering recidivism rates in the state.

“These organizations are doing innovative work to educate, employ and keep ex-offenders on track, which will reduce recidivism rates and increase public safety in California,” said Attorney General Harris. “Today’s awardees are keeping ex-offenders accountable by empowering them to rebuild their lives and re-enter their communities with a toolbox of new skills and opportunities. We want to recognize their great work, sharing their efforts as best practices for others to follow.”  

The Smart on Crime Awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated leadership in criminal justice programs focused on incarcerated or at-risk populations. These programs increase educational and employment opportunities for individuals, and decrease the likelihood that they will commit future crimes.

The recipients are: Five Keys Charter School; the Conviction and Sentence Alternatives Program of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Tom Gammon and Suzy McCausland, co-founders of Merit Partners; Kabira Stokes of Isidore Electronics Recycling; and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The awardees were recommended by the Department’s Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, which was launched by Attorney General Harris in 2013. The division has worked to identify effective initiatives and evidence-based best practices to reduce recidivism that can be held up as a model for others to follow.

Additional information on the Smart on Crime Award recipients:

Five Keys Charter School (Northern CA) – Five Keys Charter School is an innovative program that provides traditionally underserved communities the opportunity to restart their education with a focus on the “five keys”: education, employment, recovery, family, and community.

Originally established by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in 2003, Five Keys was the first charter school in the country to operate inside of a county jail. Today, Five Keys has a daily enrollment of more than 3,000 students in six jail locations and numerous satellite campuses in partnership with community-based organizations and city agencies throughout San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Conviction and Sentence Alternatives Program of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Southern CA) – The Conviction and Sentence Alternatives (CASA) Program, offers individuals a pathway out of the criminal justice system. The first alternative sentencing program in the Central District of California, CASA offers treatment, sanction alternatives and incentives to select federal defendants.

Participants must plead guilty and successfully complete programs designed to address the underlying causes of their criminal conduct, such as substance abuse treatment or employment/education services.  The felony will then either be dismissed or a probationary sentence will be imposed instead of prison. CASA just finished its 24-month pilot phase and has been adopted as a permanent program. Since it was launched, 60 percent of participants have graduated and 33 percent remain in the program.

Participation is entirely voluntary and must be approved by the judge assigned to the defendant’s criminal case.

Tom Gammon and Suzy McCausland, Merit Partners (Central CA) – Tom Gammon and Suzy McCausland, Ph.D., are the co-founders of Merit Partners, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing recidivism through market wage jobs and job training for incarcerated young adults.

Program participants are trained and employed in and out-of-custody in electronics recycling. They work 30 hours per week and are paid fair market wages set by the state; a portion of all money earned goes to the victims of the participants’ crimes. Located inside the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, Merit Partners is the only operation of its kind in a California correctional facility.

Tom Gammon is a former Silicon Valley executive who conceived Merit Partners with the belief that an offender has to have hope and the ability to work in order to change a life of crime.

Suzy McCausland, Ph.D., an expert in the complexities of dynamic social-system change, co-founded Merit Partners because she believes that skills and attitudes to succeed come only after people believe their efforts to learn will be rewarded.

Kabira Stokes, Isidore Electronics Recycling (Southern CA) – Kabira Stokes is the founder and CEO of Isidore Electronics Recycling, a Los Angeles startup working to ensure that resources – both human and natural – are valued, not wasted. Isidore employs people with criminal records to recycle electronic waste for companies seeking a more responsible way to manage their environmental footprint and avoid exporting e-waste to developing countries that have poor environmental and workplace standards.

Isidore provides electronic recycling services to residents, businesses and governmental organizations while functioning as an on-the-job training and employment program for previously incarcerated Angelenos.

Kabira Stokes launched Isidore Electronics Recycling in 2011. She holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California with a focus in Prison Reentry Policy and Environmental Governance.

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (Southern CA) – The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce played an integral role in helping the City of Los Angeles become the first major city to formally support Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for some crimes. The Chamber recognizes the importance of access to jobs for the formerly incarcerated. In that spirit, it has led efforts to employ offenders that are being released from LA County’s Back on Track program, an initiative launched by Attorney General Harris. The engagement from the LA Chamber is serving as a model for Chambers across the state and the country.

Click here for photos and more information about this event.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, LA County Officials Launch Los Angeles Recidivism Reduction Initiative

March 11, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today visited Pitchess Detention Facility to launch “Back on Track LA,” an innovative recidivism reduction partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department, local community colleges, a local charter school and private foundations. The comprehensive anti-recidivism initiative will work to hold offenders accountable, while preparing them to re-enter society as contributing and law-abiding members of their communities.

The Attorney General was joined at Pitchess by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers and representatives from the Ford Foundation and the local community college district.

“Reducing recidivism is key to a smart-on-crime approach to criminal justice,” Attorney General Harris said. “Instead of only reacting to crime, we must also focus on prevention to shut the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Back on Track LA will hold offenders accountable to their communities, their families and themselves.  This initiative will give participants the skills to become contributing and law-abiding members of society, which enhances public safety.”

“We have too many people in jails who can and should be contributing members of our community. Under the Back On Track program, inmates will receive instruction, mentorship system, and a supportive structure —  both in and out of custody — which will facilitate their return to our community and give them a better shot of not returning to our care,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “This unique program offers hope to those who too often cycle in and out of our jails and will serve as a model for national thinking around these important issues.”

Back on Track LA is composed of 90 participants— all male “triple nons”: non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders— and is housed in LA County. The initiative was designed to provide the participants with the critical services needed for a seamless transition from in-custody to out-of-custody life, targeting the time offenders are most likely to recidivate.

The in-custody program consists of four training tracks that include cognitive behavior training, education (academic and career-technical), life skills and re-entry training. The in-custody program will also provide additional child support services, family services, identification, health services, and tattoo removal. 

Five Keys Charter School will facilitate the cognitive behavior instruction for the program and offer remedial courses for participants who do not have a high school diploma. College of the Canyons and LA Mission College will offer college courses to those participants that have already obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent. The credits obtained while in custody can be transferred to any California community college. LA Trade Technical College and College of the Canyons will also offer skill building and individual certification courses in welding, construction and maintenance.

The out-of-custody program comprises three main components: employment, housing and continuing education opportunities. As part of the program, an Employment Advisory Board has been created to assist inmates with job placement post-release. LA County Probation Department has partnered with LASD to provide transitional housing for participants for up to 120 days. Program participants who are unable to complete their high school studies while in-custody will have the opportunity to complete their studies at a Five Keys out-of-custody location in Los Angeles County. Those participants earning college credits who wish to continue their post-secondary education out-of-custody can transfer those credits to any California community college. The LA County Probation Department will also provide out-of-custody coaches that will continue to monitor and assist participants for 12 months after their release.

In October 2014, Back on Track LA received a $750,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act to assist with funding the pilot program. Back on Track LA was one of only four awardees in the country of the Second Chance Act grant. Additional funding for Back on Track LA was provided by the Ford Foundation, California Wellness Foundation and Rosenberg Foundation.

In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, an office designed to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives. The new division is developing a statewide definition of recidivism, identifying grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs, and using technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

California Attorney General’s Office Awarded $750,000 to Fight Recidivism

October 27, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that the California Attorney General’s Office has been awarded nearly $750,000 in federal grant funds for recidivism reduction efforts.  The funds, which come from the U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act, will be directed to “Back on Track  LA,” a recidivism reduction pilot initiative under development by the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles County in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), Los Angeles County Probation Department, local community colleges, a local charter school and private foundations.  Back on Track LA is one of only four awardees in the country of this Second Chance Act grant.

“We must reject the false choice of being ‘tough’ or ‘soft’ on crime,” Attorney General Harris said. “This funding recognizes the importance of a smart-on-crime approach to criminal justice that focuses on holding offenders accountable and putting them on track to productive, law abiding lives.” 

“The Department of Justice is proud to support innovative efforts like California's 'Back on Track LA' program that use evidence-based strategies to strengthen public safety, reduce recidivism, and improve individual lives,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Under the Justice Department's Smart on Crime initiative, we are working with programs like this one to break the cycle of criminality and incarceration that traps too many communities and devastates too many families, and to help build the more effective criminal justice system that all Americans deserve.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott said, “It is exciting news to learn that we have received grant funding to support the creative collaboration and partnerships that are cornerstones of the Back on Track Program. This grant funding will assist with the smart on crime initiative of intensive in-jail programming followed by appropriate re-entry services upon release. I am pleased to part of this strategic effort.”

Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers added, “As the largest Probation Department in the nation we are pleased to partner in the Back on Track LA program which will allow us to have further impact on the transition of inmates back in to the the community by offering case management services directly inside the custody setting such as cognitive behavioral therapy and other mental health services. Upon release, the Probation team will also be able to assist in linking inmates to additional services in the community.”

In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, an office designed to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives. The new division is tasked with the development of a statewide definition of recidivism, identifying grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs and using technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

In May 2014, Attorney General Harris announced the creation of her recidivism reduction pilot initiative in Los Angeles County. The Back on Track LA program will deliver critical education and comprehensive re-entry services before and after an offender is released from jail. The pilot program will build on the Sheriff Department’s “Education Based Incarceration Program,” through a partnership with FiveKeys Charter School and the Los Angeles Community College District – specifically, Los Angeles Mission College and Los Angeles Trade-Technical College– and Santa Clarita Community College District’s College of the Canyons. The partnership will provide higher education opportunities to incarcerated participants including prerequisites to community college degrees, credentials and certificates.

The Back on Track LA program will focus on the critical time following an individual’s release from jail, by providing re-entry services essential for success, including employment and life skill services. Back on Track LA will emphasize accountability by assigning participants a case manager or coach to develop a plan that holds individuals accountable to their families, communities and victims.

Individuals will be enrolled in the Back on Track LA pilot program for 24-30 months—divided into 12-18 months in-custody and 12 months out-of-custody. Participants will consist of non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual crime offenders between the ages of 18 to 30 years old who are incarcerated in the LASD jail system following the implementation of Public Safety Realignment.  

The United States Department of Justice grant is funded through The Second Chance Act. The Act, which was signed into law in 2008, provides funds to improve outcomes for those previously incarcerated as they reintegrate into their communities.  Through a competitive grant process, this legislation authorizes federal grants to government and nonprofit agencies working to reduce recidivism for those returning to local communities from prison, jails, and juvenile facilities. 

In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Proposed Statewide Definition of Recidivism

October 16, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released a proposed, statewide definition of recidivism in a letter addressed to California law enforcement leaders. The Attorney General’s proposed definition represents a data-driven approach to evaluate recidivism rates and measure the effectiveness of criminal justice policies and programs.

In a letter sent today to California Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Probation Chiefs, District Attorneys and other law enforcement stakeholders, Attorney General Harris praised the success that many local law enforcement agencies have shown in implementing Public Safety Realignment and emphasized the need for an innovative, statewide assessment of strategies to curb recidivism.

“Universally defining recidivism is a fundamentally important issue if we are to be smart on crime. In California, Public Safety Realignment has shifted responsibility for incarceration and supervision of many offenders to our local counties. However, California lacks any uniform or standard way to measure the rate of individuals who re-commit crimes,” Attorney General Harris said in a letter to law enforcement leaders. 

The proposed, statewide definition measures recidivism as: An arrest resulting in a charge filed by a prosecutor within three years of an individual’s release from incarceration or placement on supervision for a previous criminal conviction.

In October of last year, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, which works to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives. For the past year, the Division has worked collaboratively with law enforcement leaders across the state to discuss the effectiveness of local criminal justice policies and programs.

The Division conducted a comprehensive survey of over 540 law enforcement, corrections, and policy stakeholders across California to assess how each defined and tracked recidivism across jurisdictions and agencies. According to the survey, 60% of respondents reported that they had no formal definition of recidivism and 34% reported that they lacked any data tracking recidivism.

“As our state’s top cop, Attorney General Harris has continued to show great leadership in addressing the complicated issue of recidivism in California. The Attorney General’s definition is data-focused and will give an accurate and true picture of recidivism in our state. As the chief law enforcement officer of L.A. County, I think the Attorney General's definition brings us one step closer to a uniform approach that counties throughout California can adopt to assess recidivism in their jurisdictions,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. 

“The Attorney General has proposed a definition of recidivism, which CDAA fully supports. The reasons to measure recidivism vary from a means to identify the effectiveness of current laws and remedies, to the ability to evaluate the many rehabilitative programs within California,” Mark Zahner, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association said.

“We commend Attorney General Harris for her leadership in developing an intellectually sustainable definition of recidivism. It is appropriate for the Attorney General, as the state's chief law enforcement officer, to take the lead in presenting a definitive explanation of recidivism. Her proposed definition reflects the 'on the ground' realities of criminal behavior and will be extremely useful to all policy makers in evaluating the efficacy of various intervention strategies,” Christopher W. Boyd, President of the California Police Chiefs Association said.

In May of this year, Attorney General Harris announced the creation of a recidivism reduction pilot program with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the Los Angeles County Probation Department, private foundations (such as the Ford Foundation), and other public and private sector partners. The “Back on Track LA” pilot program will deliver critical education and comprehensive re-entry services before and after an individual is released from jail. The program will build on LASD’s “Education Based Incarceration Program,” through a partnership with the Los Angeles Community College District – specifically, Los Angeles Mission College and Los Angeles Trade Tech College to provide higher education opportunities for incarcerated participants that include prerequisites to community college degrees, credentials and certificates. The program will focus on the critical time following an individual’s release from jail, by providing the seamless re-entry services essential for success, including employment and life skill services.

In 2005, then San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A copy of the letter is attached below.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Los Angeles Recidivism Reduction Pilot Program

May 8, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the creation of a recidivism reduction pilot program with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and other public and private sector partners. Attorney General Harris made the announcement at the Renewing Communities conference sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

“We must reject the false choice of being ‘tough’ or ‘soft’ on crime,” Attorney General Harris said. “It is time for smart on crime policies that keep our communities safe, hold offenders accountable, and reduce our prison population. Back on Track LA will work to reduce levels of recidivism by connecting offenders with the education and job opportunities that get their lives back on track.”

The “Back on Track LA” pilot program will deliver critical education and comprehensive re-entry services before and after an individual is released from jail. The pilot program will build on LASD’s “Education Based Incarceration Program,” through a partnership with the Los Angeles Community College District – specifically, Los Angeles Mission College and Los Angeles Trade Tech College to provide higher education opportunities for incarcerated participants that include prerequisites to community college degrees, credentials and certificates. The program will focus on the critical time following an individual’s release from jail, by providing the seamless re-entry services essential for success, including employment and life skill services.

“Back on Track LA” will emphasize accountability by assigning participants a case manager or coach to develop a plan that holds individuals accountable to their families, communities and victims.

Individuals will be enrolled in the pilot program for 24-30 months—divided into 12-18 months in-custody and 12 months out-of-custody. Participants will consist of non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual crime offenders between the ages of 18 to 30 years old who are incarcerated in the LASD jail system following the implementation of Public Safety Realignment.   

The “Back on Track LA” pilot program will seek funding through a combination of public and private foundation dollars. Partners in the pilot program also include the Los Angeles County Probation Department, Ford Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, and the California Endowment. 

In October 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry, an initiative designed to curb recidivism in the state by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives.  Specifically, the new division is tasked with the development of a statewide definition of recidivism, identifying grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs and using technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

In 2005, then San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Launches Initiative to Reduce Recidivism in California

November 20, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today launched a new initiative designed to curb recidivism in California through partnerships between the California Department of Justice’s new Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry and the state’s counties and District Attorneys.

The Division will support counties and District Attorneys by partnering on best practices and policy initiatives, such as the development of a statewide definition of recidivism, identifying grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs and using technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

“California’s District Attorneys bring vital experience to the challenge of reducing recidivism, and it is important their perspective is incorporated,” said Attorney General Harris. “This new division will support innovative, evidence-based approaches to recidivism solutions in California.” 

“San Diego County has been a statewide leader in working to reduce recidivism through innovative prisoner re-entry programs,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “We welcome the Attorney General’s leadership and commitment of resources in this area as our County continues to protect public safety while dealing with the ongoing challenges brought on by prisoner realignment.”

"The Attorney General's initiative will provide local prosecutors with the accurate data we need to determine realignment's real impact on public safety," Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "I look forward to working with other prosecutors in developing effective diversion programs for nonviolent offenders and seeking funds to expand alternative sentencing courts."

“Any successful crime reduction effort must include a strategic and well planned approach to combatting recidivism,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley.  “Both low level criminals as well violent offenders will eventually return to our communities when released from jail or prison, and I welcome the opportunity to work closely with Attorney General Harris’ office on putting into place the best possible strategies to reduce crime and recidivism rates.”

“The decision to implement a new strategic plan that would ultimately help reduce crime and recidivism in our state is a powerful step forward, and I commend Attorney General Harris for her leadership in this area,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said. “It is a data-driven methodology that will not only better equip local DAs with resources and technical assistance, but one that will make our streets safer. As we continue to address the ever changing needs brought about by prison reform, this initiative is a much-needed, collaborative approach to tackling crime more effectively at the state and local levels.”

“I appreciate the leadership of Attorney General Harris in focusing our collective attention to best practices to reduce recidivism and crime in our communities,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been a national leader in rehabilitating jail inmates while incarcerated, and those efforts will only be enhanced with proven re-entry strategies focusing on helping offenders be successful upon release from jails and prisons.”

“As the California Criminal Justice System continues to recalibrate itself with the implementation of Realignment, the California Police Chiefs Association is encouraged by the Attorney General’s announcement that the Department of Justice will partner with counties to identify and implement successful reentry programs,” California Police Chiefs Association President Kim Raney said. “Ensuring public safety in our communities is the primary mission for Police Chiefs, and we welcome the Attorney General’s commitment to work with counties to ensure the safety of cities statewide.”

The Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry will consist of three subdivisions focused on program development, evaluation and grants. It will be funded through existing California Department of Justice resources.

The Division will use innovative technology, such as the Department’s recently created California SmartJustice system, to analyze offender populations and recidivism risk factors. SmartJustice, a new database and analytical tool created by the California Department of Justice, can track repeat offenders and offense trends to provide counties with more effective options in developing anti-recidivism initiatives. 

In 2005, then San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the US Department of Justice.