San Francisco works to prevent ex-convicts from re-offending in city

SF Public Press
 — Sep 28 2011 - 10:43am
San Francisco is preparing for the October release of state prisoners to the custody of local governments by forming a commission to prevent them from re-offending. Currently about three-quarters of ex-convicts in the city commit new crimes.
Supervisors Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen Tuesday introduced an ordinance to establish a sentencing commission in hopes of reducing recidivism. The commission would be led by District Attorney George Gascón and would include representatives from the police and sheriff’s departments, public defender’s office, nonprofits serving victims and ex-prisoners, among others.
On Oct. 1, a new law will relieve California of the responsibility of state prisoners, and turn them over to cities and counties in a process called “realignment.”
“Realignment is challenging San Francisco to think differently and find creative solutions to reduce recidivism while prioritizing public safety,” Gascón said Tuesday.
Officials said the recidivism rate for San Francisco inmates released for the first time is 77 percent. With the transfer of custody of prisoners, Wiener said the commission would employ best practices so that the cost of services do not tax the city budget.
“We need to be smart about the jails budget and not let it overwhelm other parts of the budget,” he said.
In addition to tracking progress of former inmates, the commission could also develop sentencing strategies reducing recidivism. North Carolina, Kansas and Washington are among 17 states that have local commissions.
San Francisco could become the first city with its own recidivism panel.