Merced County successfully addresses high crime rates

Merced County, located in California’s Central Valley, has struggled with economic hardship and above average crime rates for a decade. Such hardship has created pressure on the local jail and correctional system. With the passage of AB 109 in 2011, additional pressure was applied on the local system.

To address its challenges, the county has worked with BI Incorporated for many years to deliver creative alternatives to detention for offender populations. First, the county established BI electronic monitoring programs for adult and youthful offenders. While these programs have closed due to funding, the county opened a Day Reporting Center in March 2008 to deliver cognitive behavioral treatment for adult probationers. The DRC is reserved for chronic offenders who require extra supervision. Offenders who report to the DRC go through a multi-phase program that includes regular reporting to the center; classes, treatment and training; and ongoing testing for drug and alcohol use.

Merced County’s DRC program has done exceptionally well. In fact, employment and education rates for probationers who complete the program have been as high as 84 percent. In a county where unemployment hovers around 20 percent, this is impressive. Merced’s DRC program was singled out by the California State Association of Counties in 2009 for its success. As a result, the county expanded capacity in 2012 from 50 to 65 participants.

To read more about Merced County’s response to high crime rates, jail crowding, and AB 109, see the full case study.