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Re-entry program takes aim at revolving jail door

October 25, 2017

Chris Hudak knew he wanted to change, but didn’t know where to start. He found answers with the Placer Re-Entry Program.

Hudak is one of 162 people who have graduated from the PREP. The program provides services and accountability to criminal offenders who are at medium to high risk of reoffending, serving those who are currently in custody as well as parolees and probationers.

At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, staff shared highlights from the PREP’s first three years. The program was developed after the board-commissioned Criminal Justice System Master Plan pointed to the county’s need for increased re-entry services. Supervisors authorized $1.3 million to fund re-entry services both in and out of custody.

Clients who enroll in the PREP are assessed and each one given a customized case plan. That plan could include a range of mandated services: job readiness training, substance abuse education, anger management, GED preparation, parenting classes — whatever resources are most likely to help them succeed.

“It’s a one-stop shop where offenders can get services as they are released back into our community,” said Chief Probation Officer Marshall Hopper. “This is invaluable because it promotes success while holding offenders accountable.”

The Sacramento County Office of Education provides re-entry services and contracts with the Northern California Construction Training, providing clients hands-on construction training and certification. An astounding 96 percent of the clients they’ve worked with had a job when they exited the program.

Graduates spend an average of 171 days in the program. Of these, nearly 60 percent are employed and make an estimated $513 per month more than before incarceration.

Overall, 88 percent of program graduates adhere to the terms of their probation and 92 percent have not had a new conviction since completing the program.

“Once they commit to the program and to making better decisions, our clients open up many opportunities for themselves,” Hopper said. “And because many of them are parents, they’re breaking a cycle of crime, impacting families which has a ripple effect on our community.”

A recent agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation provides a cost-sharing partnership that expands services without additional county costs. Additional services recently began in Auburn and efforts are currently underway to expand PREP services to the Tahoe region by the end of the year.

“One of the things I like about the PREP is that long after participants have graduated, the PREP folks continue to be there to help work through any obstacles,” said District 5 Supervisor and Board Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery.

“The skills I learned through the PREP got me where I am today. I learned discipline and responsibility. It created a domino effect of positive change,” said Hudak, who completed probation and has been employed for more than a year and a half. He recently celebrated the birth of his first child, a son.

“Now the most wild part of my lifestyle is changing dirty diapers,” Hudak said.

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