In an effort to regain lost ground and reactivate a floundering program, District Attorney David Hollister presented his own set of goals and objectives responding to a state survey at a Nov. 28 special meeting of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP). The CCP was created in mid-2011 as a response to Assembly Bill 109, Public Safety Re-Alignment and includes representation from the courts, sheriff, district attorney, probation, public defenders and behavioral health.
Hollister explained that his responses to the survey more accurately meet the needs of all the agencies at the CCP table and not just that of the probation department.
Hollister went on to state that CCP started out with a model program — one that other counties wanted to copy. But then the CCP seemed to take a giant step backward and is doing little to support the criminal audience they are paid to assist.
According to the CCP survey, responses are intended to help show how counties are allocating and using state funding to reduce recidivism (re-offending) and to help keep communities safe. Plumas County, based on its population of less than 20,000, receives an additional $100,000 for completing the survey.
The survey is designed to help Californians understand what is occurring within each Public Safety Realignment committee. The Board of State and Community Corrections uses it in its annual report to the governor and legislature for implementing CCP plans according to the state penal code.
Probation Department Chief Erin Metcalf said the reason for the special meeting was that the deadline to submit the survey is Dec. 14.
Also of importance, according to Hollister, are the goals that are developed and carried out. These give CCP and affiliated agencies opportunities for grant funding.
As an example, Hollister said that Plumas was finally successful in gaining a $25 million grant for a new jail in part because it is offering a 3,000 square foot Day Reporting Center attached to the new facility.
Hollister said that CCP needed to realize that goal and support it or the grant could be in jeopardy.
Members of the CCP committee were able to examine and question a near-status quo survey as written and presented by Metcalf.
Metcalf represents probation and other members include Deborah Norrie representing Plumas County’s judges, Sheriff Greg Hagwood, D.A. Hollister, Public Defender Bill Abramson and Behavioral Health Director Tony Hobson.
“Last year we chose new goals and I think they’re good goals,” Metcalf said at the beginning of the meeting. “And we should definitely keep working toward those goals.”
Norrie mentioned changes to the system brought about by Senate Bill 10 that was approved in August ending cash bail. The move also meant an end to the bail bondsmen industry. Hollister pointed out that the 366,000 signatures needed for a petition against the proposition had just been reached. This could mean the end of SB 10. As it now stands SB 10 would go into effect in October 2019.
Others pointed out dates, spelling errors and other changes to the survey. Norrie also pointed out that the document leads a reader to believe there is a police chief in Portola, but the position isn’t filled. “We will never have a chief of police here,” she stated. Portola is the only incorporated city in Plumas County and it contracts with the Sheriff’s Office for services.
As members reviewed the document, Abramson noted that people outside Plumas County need to understand its geographic challenges. The distance from Chester at one end of the county is a long way from Chilcoot at its opposite end.
Programs and projects that other counties routinely use to bring people together don’t work here. Distance and the lack of weekend and evening transportation make it difficult, if not impossible, to follow through with good ideas.
Hobson pointed out that the Wellness Centers now available in Portola, Greenville and Chester help make some services more accessible.
Hollister then turned the discussion toward his new goals and objectives.
After passing out his own version of the responses to the survey, he challenged members of the committee to not only remember what they accomplished four and five years ago, but to move forward in taking control and creating programs and partnerships that would meet the needs of Plumas County’s criminal justice system and the people they all service.
District attorney’s ideas
Hollister introduced the responses that he and Stephanie Tanaka, Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP) manager, prepared.
Hollister said that CCP should “look at the survey not only through the lens of what is being requested, but as a vehicle for setting meaningful goals for our county.”
“The survey is intended to allow us to demonstrate ‘how counties are allocating and using funds to reduce recidivism while keeping communities safe’ and that our response should ‘represent the collective views of the CCP and not a single agency or individual,’” Hollister explained.
Going through the survey presented by Metcalf, Hollister pointed out that goal number 6 that implemented a pre-trial services program is last year’s goal. He said that while the language for the objectives and outcomes was good, Plumas County could do better.
He said goal number 7, re-establishment of a Day Reporting Center, was good but no progress had been made.
The DRC, located on Harbison Street in Quincy, was designed as a one-stop center. Mental health (now Behavioral Health) had an office and a case worker there, and classes and other programs were offered.
The DRC was launched in 2013 and opened its doors in May 2014. It attracted between 150 to 200 participants a month, Tanaka said. Hollister acknowledged that some attendees were counted more than once a month.
After the DRC closed in June 2017, the court caseload grew by 30 percent, Hollister said. The DRC closed because some neighbors complained about participants hanging out near the location, but more importantly, the probation and behavioral health departments stopped providing services to the program, according to Hollister.
Hollister said that those who operated the parole program out of Redding were stunned when the DRC closed because the parolees they monitored could receive no services.
The county’s drug court program also came to a close last year. Hollister said that with the close of that program, the number of re-offenders shot up. The program had given offenders something to concentrate on to make their recovery more successful.
Hollister stated that goal number 8, intended to reduce the deputy probation officer caseloads to a ratio of 50 to one, was good, but it should be the last year that probation talked about hiring more officers.
In goal number 9, the probation chief stated that the goal was to provide effective supervision and programming to PRCS — Post Release Community Supervision — offenders and high-risk offenders. It came out that probation is currently supervising only seven PRCS offenders that meet CCP guidelines. Hollister questioned the amount of funding from CCP that probation receives given the low number of people they actually serve for CCP.
Hollister then skipped ahead to the optional questions section of the survey pertaining to evaluation, data collection, programs and services, training and technical assistance needs, and local best practices.
Metcalf described a local best practice or promising program that has produced positive results. She stated that, “Local best practices include the multiple housing models offered, including Transitional Sober Living homes, transitional house and an emergency and transitional shelter for youth.” She also included The 24/7 Dad Program.
Hollister said that we have “a lot of really good things going,” citing Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center and the Workforce for Alliance programs for doing highly creative things for those in the criminal justice system.Going to goal number 10 that asks if the CCP will use the same goals, objectives and outcome measures identified above in fiscal year 2018-19. Metcalf checked the yes box.
Hollister stated that when looking at the past few years, the CCP has not served Plumas County well. He said the county was once in a good place and it can’t afford to continue its backward slide where criminal justice is concerned. If an attorney, especially a public defender, has two trials to prepare for that’s one thing, but when the individual has “15, it is a different animal,” he said.
At the end of Hollister’s presentation the board voted unanimously to substitute Hollister’s survey for the one initially presented by Metcalf.
“I am very excited about this development,” Hollister said about the vote. “For the first time since 2016 I feel like we have some positive momentum.”
See next week’s edition of the newspaper for more details.