Guest opinion: Sacramento reentry program would provide valuable local services

The following guest column was recently submitted to the Sacramento Bee by John Campbell, retired Administrator with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and current Central California Area Manager for GEO Reentry Services.

As a longtime Sacramento resident, a retired employee of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with 35 years of public service, and as a practitioner who is currently employed by GEO Reentry Services, I feel compelled to address the recent article in the Sacramento Bee related to the siting of a day reporting center within the City of Sacramento.

Throughout my career I have seen first-hand the revolving door of recidivism and re-victimization as a result of a lack of effective reentry programs and services in our community.  For those who have been incarcerated, time away from home, family and employment creates many hurdles upon reentry to a community. Thankfully, this last decade has brought a new attitude toward providing post-release support services for formerly-incarcerated individuals, and reentry programs like those operated by GEO Reentry Services are providing programs that support successful reentry, thereby reducing recidivism and making communities safer.

On March 6, the City Council will take up an issue that was roundly supported by the Sacramento Planning Commission (10-2 vote) and is supported by the local criminal justice system – opening a day reporting center that will provide valuable post-release services to formerly incarcerated individuals living and working in Sacramento. We want the citizens of Sacramento to know that we hear and share your concerns. We want safe communities as well, and in fact, our programs are designed to reduce repeat criminal behavior and enhance community safety.

The proposal is for a conditional use permit to open a small day reporting center for participants under federal supervision at an office location on Franklin Boulevard – this location previously served as an adult day reporting center serving county probationers. The center is designed for individuals who are nearing the final months of their condition of release, have demonstrated positive progress for a couple of years, and are deemed suitable for community placement. These individuals are from Sacramento, their families live here, their children attend schools here, and they deserve the opportunity to receive post-release rehabilitative programs here as well.

Understanding the need to be open and transparent on what this proposal is, and what it is not, we have hosted neighborhood forums over the last several months to discuss our plans and share our approach. We have met with several community groups and individuals who want to learn more about the programs we operate, and we will continue to work with the community to ensure transparency.

What is a day reporting center and why are we qualified to run it?

A day reporting center is a non-residential reentry program that incorporates evidence-based programming, accountability, and behavior change treatment to help participants make lasting positive change in their lives and reduce the likelihood they will get involved in the justice system again. Participants come to a center during the day for anywhere from 15 min. to 2 hours, participate in classes, meet one-on-one with staff, and access valuable resources. These are rigorous programs, with strict rules for behavior and conditions of participation.

GEO Reentry has invested millions of dollars to incorporate best practices into our reentry programs. We’ve consulted with respected experts from universities and correctional associations, and we learn every day within our 100 community reentry programs. We are proud of the value we bring to our partnership with local, state and federal agencies nationwide.

We look forward to the opportunity to bring this much-needed program to Sacramento. Historically, our programs tend to be viewed as positive local assets, where lives are being turned around to strengthen families and communities.