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As of November 20th 2019, the prison population in California according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is approximately 125,000 people. In addition, about 52,000 are on parole supervision.

Although the CDCR provides several re-entry programs, they reach only a small percentage of the paroling population, and are not comprehensive in meeting the needs of the individuals they are intended to serve. Most glaringly lacking is individual case management to help each person in incarceration with his or her re-entry needs, specific to his or her situation upon release. Another major flaw in the system as it currently functions is the critical time lag in the delivery of services. Re-entry support information is available (housing, employment etc), but it is often not offered until at least a week after parole. This leaves the newly released with few choices for survival in the interim. In addition, information about available services is often poorly disseminated, and as a result some parolees are never able to access assistance which is, in theory, available to them.


With careful planning and proper implementation of a comprehensive release plan prior to parole, these gaps are eliminated and the rehabilitation process, which ideally began in prison, can continue uninterrupted throughout parole and beyond. Any comprehensive model for such a program must include the active involvement of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the communities to which the people return from incarceration, the public, and the media. In addition, on-going evaluation of programs, in order to track the impact of such comprehensive programs on recidivism rates, is also essential.

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Photo Credit: Art Cheng

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