Most jails around the country are having problems with overcrowding. Criminals are being released from jail before their sentence is up because jails simply do not have enough beds for all inmates. Fresno County is looking to open criminal rehabilitation in the jails. Instead of just adding more beds for more inmates Fresno is looking to try and solve the problem. The new proposed rehab program, also known as a re-entry program, would offer inmates counseling and basic skills they might need to prepare them for life outside of the jails. Fresno’s plan calls for specialized staffing, dedicated space for services, and a federally designed program intended on stopping the criminal cycle.
The main issue with Fresno’s criminal rehabilitation proposal is funding. Especially in our economy so many areas of the criminal justice system are taking cuts. There are simply not enough funds in order to do everything people want and need to do in the system. There are limited public-safety dollars. Should rehabilitation be accounted into that fund? Normally the rehabilitation programs in jail are the first to take the cut, but Fresno believes rehabilitation programs are key for the jail system and keeping criminals out of jail. For public-safety initiatives there is about $2.5 million dollars in state funds. That number seems high, but there are so many programs that are looking to receive that money it is hard to get your program the funding it might need.
Fresno officials believe that in order to stop overcrowding you need to keep people out of jail. Many criminals in jails are reoffenders. Officials need to have programs that will reduce those individuals from committing crimes when they leave prison. Officials must make space in jails for inmates. In order to do so we need to keep beds open and keep individuals out of prison. Jailers have been freeing upwards of 60 inmates a day over the past few years because of shortage of beds. These criminals have not served their sentence, but there is no room to keep them in prison when there are other “harder” criminals that need to be in the jail.
The re-entry program that Fresno Jails are proposing seems like a logical step in fixing the problem. This program will serve to get people out of jail and free up bed space for other criminals while making sure inmates are prepared for release so they do not end up in jail again. If this program is approved, the re-entry unit at the jail would open this summer and accommodate 72 inmates. Two probation officers, two correctional officers, and a social worker would be hired. The program would be housed in the jail’s north annex. Captain Neil Dadian states, “The main goal is to make sure we have a connection when we release (inmates), someplace for them to go.”