New Push to Keep Returning Inmates Out of Prison

The move comes in the wake of more than 100,000 inmates having been shifted to county jails in the last two years

By Olga Spilewsky and Conan Nolan
|  Thursday, Nov 21, 2013  |  Updated 12:19 AM PDT
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California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a new initiative Wednesday aimed at keeping those released from state jails from returning. Conan Nolan reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a new initiative Wednesday aimed at keeping those released from state jails from returning. Conan Nolan reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

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California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris announces a new initiative to keep returning inmates out of prison after the movement of thousands of state inmates to local jails.

Besides housing these inmates, local officials are now finding they need to step up their efforts at helping them find a new life once prisoners are released.

“California has experienced over the past several rates a recidivism rate as high as 67 percent within three years of release,” Harris said at a news conference Wednesday.

The mission is to keep these inmates from ending up back in court. Harris’ new program is designed to get prosecutors to collaborate on the “best practices” in the state’s 58 counties, a search for funding to help with re-entry programs, and a “smart justice” effort, upgrading law enforcement’s often antiquated technology.

“Rehabilitating” prison inmates, has been the job of the state. But, because of the federal courts’ requirement to reduce prison overcrowding and the new realignment law, about 100,000 state inmates have been shifted to county jails over the past two years.

“The bed space that we use to house people who committed misdemeanors and felonies, who were on probation, are now being occupied by more serious offenders,” said L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. “And, people are getting released.”

As part of the effort, released inmates will be sent to substance abuse programs and community colleges, so they can obtain job skills. Besides saving taxpayer money, those in support of the program hope success will also lead to a safer community.

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