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.