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County of Sonoma Probation Department
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Public Safety Realignment Act

The Public Safety Realignment Act (Assembly Bill 109) was signed into law by the Governor on April 5, 2011, and amended by Assembly Bill 117 on June 30, 2011. This legislation specifies new responsibilities for managing adult offenders in California, and obligates counties to develop and recommend a Realignment Plan through the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP), a group created in connection with prior criminal justice legislation. The public safety realignment, which will begin October 1, 2011, is financed according to AB 118. Certain prison inmates (known as the Post-Release Community Supervision population, or PRCS), will be released to the supervision of a county agency in the county of last residence (rather than under the supervision of state parole. The prison inmates who will constitute the PRCS population will be those who were incarcerated for an offense classified as non-violent and non-serious, and will exclude high risk sex offenders, third-strike offenders, and mentally disordered offenders.

AB 109 also changes the penal code and sentencing laws so that offenders whose current or past offenses are non-violent, non-serious, or non-sex related, will serve their sentences locally (so-called “non-non-non” offenders). It is anticipated that local sentences will include combinations of county jail detention, probation supervision, and a variety of detention alternatives.

Finally, most parole and PRCS revocations will no longer be served in state prison. All parole revocations, other than those for inmates with life terms, will be served in county jail, and be limited to 180 days. Additionally, the legislation mandates the Court as the body responsible for parole and PRCS revocation hearings, rather than the Board of Parole Hearings.

View Information related to Realignment, the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP), and its subcommittees.

Circles Across Sonoma Program Receives NACO Award

This year, the Circles Across Sonoma Program was one of three Sonoma County Programs to be awarded a 2009 National Association of Counties Achievement Award, and on September 1, 2009 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recognized the Juvenile Probation staff members who implemented this program. Circles Across Sonoma is the Title II Formula Grants funded project of the Juvenile Division. It was launched in 2007 as part of the Department’s focus on developing gender-responsive programming and followed the transition of the Sierra Youth Center to an all-girls camp. The idea for Circles Across Sonoma, in fact, originated in the new Sierra Youth Center, which built the Girls Circle format into Sierra’s core programming and aftercare services. Because Girls Circle was so successful in engaging Sierra youth, Probation developed a plan and successfully pursued a grant to offer these structured services “beyond Sierra,” making the service available to any girl across the County, wherever she touches the Juvenile Probation system.

Using the resources of the grant, Circles Across Sonoma massively expanded the availability of these services throughout the county to the much larger number of girls throughout the broader juvenile justice system; Circles Across Sonoma makes the Girls Circle program service an option for every female juvenile offender who touches the County Juvenile Probation system. Girls can be referred to the program at any level: Diversion, Juvenile Hall, Juvenile Probation Services, Sierra Youth Center, and Sierra Aftercare. The Girls Circle model integrates relational theory, resiliency practices, and skills training in a specific format designed to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls. Using motivational interviewing and strengths-based techniques, and adolescent-appropriate and female-responsive group techniques (such as 40 Developmental Assets Development and the use of rituals), the groups facilitate positive change among the participants. Girls are enrolled for 8-week sessions. Every group works on issues specific to the needs of participants. Topics include relationships with peers, paths to the future, body image, and honoring diversity.

The program has been in operation since 2007 and has been greatly successful. Girls Circle groups are offered in most major population centers of Sonoma County. More than 60 certified facilitators have been trained across the County, and approximately 55 eight-week groups are conducted every year. The Juvenile Court, Probation staff, Community-Based Organization staff, parents, and the girls themselves have become enthusiastic supporters of the program. To date, almost 700 girls have been enrolled in the program, making this one of Probation’s largest programs. At the end of the second grant year, the program completion rate was 79.5%, the 6-month recidivism rate was 8.8%, and the 12-month recidivism rate was 12.1%. More than 90% of the participants rate the program with high satisfaction scores.

Circles Across Sonoma has helped to transform the way a juvenile justice system and its community partners “work smarter, not harder, with girls,” and it has put into practice an innovative strategy to keep these services available for the long term.

Implementation of Assessments Tool

The PACT (Positive Achievement Change Tool) is an evidence-based, risk/needs assessment and case planning system implemented, in conjunction with, to assist the Juvenile Services and Institutions Divisions to accomplish four basic objectives:

  1. Determine a minor's level of risk for re-offending as a way to target resources to higher-risk minors.
  2. Identify the risk and protective factors linked to criminal behavior so that the rehabilitative effort can be tailored to address the minor's unique assessment profile.
  3. Develop an automated case management plan focused on reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors.
  4. Allow Department staff to collect data necessary to analyze case trends, and evaluate effectiveness of treatment and intervention services.

The PACT enables Department Staff to reduce recidivism by helping the minors under their supervision, increase personal accountability and make positive changes in attitudes and behavior, thereby enhancing public safety and advancing the Department's mission and goals.

The STRONG (Static Risk and Offender Needs Assessment) is an evidence-based, risk/needs assessment, and case planning system implemented, in conjunction with, to assist the Adult Division accomplish the same objectives as described above for the PACT.

Juvenile Justice System Report 2009 (PDF: 15.8 MB)

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