California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB Supports Experts’ Panel Review of Prison Reform in the State

CSULB received a $301,001 grant from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to support and manage efforts by a panel of 16 experts to review the state’s current prison system. The review was requested by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and commissioned by the California State Legislature.

Beginning December 2006, the CDCR Expert Panel on Adult Offender Reentry and Recidivism Reduction Programs met every other month, while subcommittees met on opposite months. Based on their findings over the six-month period, the panel was to provide recommendations for improving the state’s rehabilitation model as well as strategies to significantly reduce recidivism and overcrowding. The panel’s findings resulted in a 210-page report titled “A Roadmap for Effective Offender Programming in California” which was completed in early July.

“This is an important and exciting new type of grant and contract activity for us,” said Marilyn Crego, dean of University College and Extension Services, noting that CSULB competed with other major educational institutions for this particular contract. “UCES served as the management portion of the contract and provided the logistics and collated the various reports that each panel member prepared into one single report based on the research conducted by the expert panel.”

The panel consisted of corrections and rehabilitation experts from throughout the nation including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Ohio, California and Washington, D.C.  Members were chosen for their broad experience in rehabilitation, education, correctional administration, psychology, and organizational development. The panel’s recommendations were based on scientific research and evidence and reflect the best practices used by correctional agencies in other states.

Along with the monthly meetings that took place in Sacramento, Long Beach, Philadelphia and New York, the panel met with senators and took field trips, including visits to Folsom Prison and the Delancey Street Foundation, a model rehab center in San Francisco.

“To manage a group of experts like this took a great deal of project management expertise on the part of our staff, under the leadership of UCES’ Director of Corporate Education and Contract Training, Regina Quiambao,” said Crego. “The experts were identified by CDCR and came from throughout the country, not from just within the state. They came to study and review California’s current parole system at the request of the governor so we were honored to be selected.”

 

The panel was chaired by Marisela Montes, chief deputy secretary for Adult Programs with the CDCR and co-chaired by Joan Petersilia, professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine.

The panel’s 11 key recommendations are to:

  • reduce overcrowding in prison facilities
  • enact legislation to expand positive reinforcements for offenders who complete rehabilitation programs and follow the rules
  • select and utilize a risk assessment tool to assess an offender’s risk to reoffend
  • determine offender rehabilitation programming based on the results of assessment tools that identify and measure risks and needs
  • create and monitor a behavior management (or case) plan for each offender
  • select and deliver a core set of programs for offenders that cover major offender areas
  • develop systems and procedures to collect and utilize programming process and outcome measures
  • continue to develop and strengthen formal partnerships with community stakeholders
  • modify community based programs to ensure they target the crime patterns of offenders, meet their basic needs upon return and identify risk factors in their home community
  • engage the community to help reduce likelihood offenders will return to a life of crime
  • develop structured guidelines to respond to technical parole violations, based on risk and seriousness. 

“The expert panel’s report will serve as a tool for implementing the historic corrections reforms that were signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger this year,” said CDCR Secretary James Tilton. “The panel’s innovative work provides a cutting edge roadmap to reduce overcrowding and bring California up to speed with other states.” 

The report recommends new models for in-prison rehabilitation programs, risk assessment tools for analyzing parole revocation decisions, and other methods to reduce recidivism and end the perpetual overcrowding crisis the state has faced in recent years. The report suggests that if all of the panel’s recommendations were adopted, California could significantly impact overcrowding and reduce its inmate population and those reductions could result in estimated annual savings of $561 million-$684 million after considering the additional investment costs for rehabilitation facilities and programs.