Attorney General Launches Initiative to Reduce Recidivism in California

Los Angeles, CA…Attorney General Kamala D. Harris launched a new initiative designed to curb recidivism in California through partnerships between the California Department of Justice’s new Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry and the state’s counties and District Attorneys.

The Division will support counties and District Attorneys by partnering on best practices and policy initiatives, such as the development of a statewide definition of recidivism, identifying grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs and using technology to facilitate more effective data analysis and recidivism metrics.

“California’s District Attorneys bring vital experience to the challenge of reducing recidivism, and it is important their perspective is incorporated,” said Attorney General Harris. “This new division will support innovative, evidence-based approaches to recidivism solutions in California.”

“San Diego County has been a statewide leader in working to reduce recidivism through innovative prisoner re-entry programs,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “We welcome the Attorney General’s leadership and commitment of resources in this area as our County continues to protect public safety while dealing with the ongoing challenges brought on by prisoner realignment.”

“The Attorney General’s initiative will provide local prosecutors with the accurate data we need to determine realignment’s real impact on public safety,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “I look forward to working with other prosecutors in developing effective diversion programs for nonviolent offenders and seeking funds to expand alternative sentencing courts.”

“Any successful crime reduction effort must include a strategic and well planned approach to combatting recidivism,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. “Both low level criminals as well violent offenders will eventually return to our communities when released from jail or prison, and I welcome the opportunity to work closely with Attorney General Harris’ office on putting into place the best possible strategies to reduce crime and recidivism rates.”

“The decision to implement a new strategic plan that would ultimately help reduce crime and recidivism in our state is a powerful step forward, and I commend Attorney General Harris for her leadership in this area,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said. “It is a data-driven methodology that will not only better equip local DAs with resources and technical assistance, but one that will make our streets safer. As we continue to address the ever changing needs brought about by prison reform, this initiative is a much-needed, collaborative approach to tackling crime more effectively at the state and local levels.”

“I appreciate the leadership of Attorney General Harris in focusing our collective attention to best practices to reduce recidivism and crime in our communities,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been a national leader in rehabilitating jail inmates while incarcerated, and those efforts will only be enhanced with proven re-entry strategies focusing on helping offenders be successful upon release from jails and prisons.”

“As the California Criminal Justice System continues to recalibrate itself with the implementation of Realignment, the California Police Chiefs Association is encouraged by the Attorney General’s announcement that the Department of Justice will partner with counties to identify and implement successful reentry programs,” California Police Chiefs Association President Kim Raney said. “Ensuring public safety in our communities is the primary mission for Police Chiefs, and we welcome the Attorney General’s commitment to work with counties to ensure the safety of cities statewide.”

The Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry will consist of three subdivisions focused on program development, evaluation and grants. It will be funded through existing California Department of Justice resources.

The Division will use innovative technology, such as the Department’s recently created California SmartJustice system, to analyze offender populations and recidivism risk factors. SmartJustice, a new database and analytical tool created by the California Department of Justice, can track repeat offenders and offense trends to provide counties with more effective options in developing anti-recidivism initiatives.

In 2005, then San Francisco District Attorney Harris created a reentry initiative called Back on Track, which aimed to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Over a two-year period, the program reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent. Back on Track was designated as a model for law enforcement by the US Department of Justice.