The innovative jail-to-community reentry programming in Merced County, California, was recently highlighted at the American Probation and Parole Association’s 42nd Annual Training Institute in August. The county’s programming offers evidence-based cognitive treatment from in-custody programming to community supervision programs and non-residential day reporting services.
As background, Merced County was one of the first counties in California to implement a full-service reentry center in 2008 in response to a growing number of issues that specifically impacted rural areas in the state. These issues included high unemployment, poverty and teen pregnancy rates.
Following the success of the Merced County Day Reporting Center, the county opened a satellite reentry center in Los Banos in 2011 and an in-custody treatment program at the Merced County Jail in 2014. The programs are run in partnership between the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Merced County Adult Probation Office and GEO Reentry Services.
All stages of the county’s jail-to-community programming emphasize behavioral change through evidence-based practices that assess and address individual risks and needs. Skilled case managers help participants with their individualized behavior change plans as they progress through the programs.
Individuals who are chosen for the in-custody and community supervision programs are selected based upon factors such as their criminal background, current criminal charges, in-custody behavior and substance abuse risk assessment. Upon their release from the program, participants are given a release and transition plan to continue their reentry work, which could involve continuing on to day reporting at the county’s DRCs. Individuals who did not undergo the in-custody program are also referred to the DRCs, which emphasize cognitive behavioral change, finding employment, sobriety from drugs and alcohol and life skills training.
The jail-to-community programming was discussed during the APPA in a special panel featuring Chief Probation Officer Jeff Kettering, Jail Reentry Program Sergeant Manual Salacup, Probation Officer Chris Haberman and GEO Reentry District Manager Chris Castaneda. GEO Reentry’s National Director Kathy Prizmich moderated the panel.
Learn more about it in the short video, “From Jail to Community.”