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New reporting center designed to help newly released inmates

  County leaders said the March 4 debut of a Daily Reporting Center represents a breakthrough for the local criminal justice system.

  The Daily Reporting Center is the result of a collaboration by several local agencies. The goal is to provide one place for people on probation and parole to get help moving forward with their lives.

  Criminal justice leaders said the DRC signifies how far the county has come since Assembly Bill 109 went into effect in October 2011. AB 109 (inmate realignment) shifted the responsibility of overseeing nonviolent felons from the state to the counties.

  According to the local Public Safety Re-Alignment Committee, the DRC is a reality largely thanks to work by the county’s new alternative sentencing coordinator, Stephanie Tanaka.

  Tanaka began coordinating the county’s efforts three months ago. During its Wednesday, Feb. 20, meeting, the realignment committee acknowledged her role.

  “Stephanie has been the glue and the driving force that has kept this whole process rolling,” said Public Health Director Mimi Hall.

  Tanaka said she is just one piece of the puzzle.

  “This hasn’t just been me; it has been a collaborative effort,” Tanaka told the realignment committee, “the sheriff’s office, health department, probation, PCIRC (Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center), everyone.

  “We have made a lot of great strides over the last three months, with new services and programs, or changing and enhancing them. Not only for the drug court or Prop. 36 clients, but for all criminal justice participants. Everyone has come together.”

Daily Reporting Center

  The DRC will be located in the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center on Main Street in Quincy.

  Initially, it will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Tanaka said the days and hours could be expanded in the future.

  “We thought this was a good amount of time to begin with so that we were not wasting resources if our numbers were low,” Tanaka said. “Everything will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis so that we can offer the best services possible.”

  The services will include counseling and treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, anger management, parenting classes and other social services.

  For many people, reporting to the DRC will be part of their sentence. Instead of spending their entire sentence in the packed county jail, they will report to the DRC as part of their probation.

  The array of services will also allow judges to render split sentences for nonviolent offenders who would benefit more from treatment and education than spending their entire sentence in a jail cell.

PCIRC’s support

  The committee thanked PCIRC Executive Director Dennis Thibeault for making his office available for the DRC.

  The realignment committee voted unanimously to provide PCIRC $4,000 to help with the cost of housing the DRC, and also $5,000 toward short-term housing costs for released inmates.

  Assistant Sheriff Dean Canalia said making sure former inmates had a place to live was important to help reduce recidivism.

  “We can’t have all these services and have somebody homeless,” he said. “If we can allow these inmates to come out of the jail — with or without electronic monitoring — go to the reporting center and actually participate in their programming, it could prove to the judge that they are worthy of split sentences. And they could also prove to the court that they do want to reform and not re-offend.”

Maintaining momentum

  The word “momentum” was used about a dozen times by several committee members during the Feb. 20 meeting.

  The committee agreed that hiring an assistant for Tanaka was key to keeping that momentum going.

  The committee agreed to use about $41,000 of the county’s AB 109 funding to hire additional help.

  “I don’t want to burn Stephanie out. This job is far and away above what one person can do,” said District Attorney David Hollister.

  Sheriff Greg Hagwood agreed.

  “I’m a very strong advocate for finding the financial resources we need to get (Tanaka) the help that she needs so that we can take the momentum we have established and expand that,” Hagwood said.

  The sheriff also credited the county’s new mental health director, Kimball Pier, for keeping the momentum going.

  “It is such a welcome change from what our collective experience has been over the last couple of decades. And I’m not joking,” Hagwood said. “I would like to thank you (Pier) personally for your efforts. And for your willingness and your enthusiasm for bringing the mental health department on as a real collaborator and cooperator. It’s tremendous.”

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