Tulare County using alternative programs to manage AB 109 offenders

It has not yet been a full year since the 2011 Public Safety Realignment law, AB 109, went into effect and yet the changes to the Tulare County jail system have been dramatic. According to Tulare County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Robin Skiles, division commander of Custody Administration, the county jails are close to capacity, but he says the county is using alternatives to reduce pressure on the jail. “We’ve been pretty successful at managing our population with the DRC, SWAP and home monitoring,” said Capt. Skiles in a recent news report.

The Tulare County Day Reporting Center (DRC) and the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP) are two of the Sheriff’s alternative sentencing programs that help alleviate pressure on the Tulare jail. A home monitoring program, managed by the Tulare County Probation Department, has also proven helpful in reducing pressure on the local jail and generating positive results in reducing recidivism. BI Incorporated helps the county manage the home monitoring program for Probation while the Sheriff’s Department operates the DRC. Another program, Residential Substance Abuse Treatment, also helps reduce the number of repeat offenders by making drug counseling available to inmates.

At this point, Skiles said programs like these make up a big part of the county’s efforts to make AB 109 work, not by changing sentences or releasing prisoners early, but by finding ways to keep the prisoners who serve their time in county jail from returning after release.

The major concern for Tulare County officials, as with other jurisdictions, is future funding for managing offenders returned to county supervision as part of AB 109 legislation. This legislation shifted the responsibility for incarcerating many low-risk inmates from the state to counties in California. BI Incorporated is working with counties to explore options for managing AB 109 offenders, including day reporting centers, core model day reporting programs for smaller counties, electronic monitoring programs, in-custody programs, even residential reentry programs.