Success in transforming county criminal justice continues into 2018 for CA Fwd

610 200 Nadine Ono

(Photo Credit: H. Michael Karshis/Flickr)

CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative wrapped up a busy and productive 2017 working with counties and state agencies to promote cross-system change to reduce recidivism. The adoption of J-SCI recommendations by partner counties is among the biggest achievements the year.

“2017 has been a pivotal year for J-SCI,” said Scott MacDonald, CA Fwd’s J-SCI lead. “We are seeing counties use the evidence-based data we presented to work toward lowering their jail populations, access funding to create anti-recidivism programs and implement J-SCI recommendations.”

Riverside County

Riverside County has made tremendous progress toward its goal of transforming its criminal justice system to address issues of jail overcrowding. Using data and recommendations from the J-SCI jail study, the Probation, Sheriff’s and Behavioral Health Departments have instituted new programs and collaborations to encourage successful reentry while maintaining public safety.

The Probation Department continued its work to reduce violations and warrants and began working toward building a more efficient department by using the LEAN methodology to streamline processes. The J-SCI team joined LEAN and KPMG consultants at the department’s executive retreat to align efforts to create a more efficient department.

Working with the Probation Department, J-SCI is currently conducting a study of the county’s juvenile facilities. When finished in 2018, J-SCI will present its findings and recommendations.

The Sheriff’s and Behavioral Health Departments have partnered to provide services to inmates with mental health needs. The two departments are also working together to ensure successful reentry by providing transportation, medication and linkage to services upon release. The J-SCI team meets regularly with the Behavioral Health Department to create more efficient systems and processes to ensure successful outcomes.

The Behavioral Health Department expanded services for substance and alcohol use disorders and treatment with funds from the Affordable Care Act. The public response has been overwhelming as calls to the hotline have increased from hundreds before the launch to many thousands a month.

The County now has a dedicated staff member to coordinate the cross-system work among the departments involved in the criminal justice system. This was a key recommendation put forth in the J-SCI jail study.

Riverside County, along with the J-SCI team and consultants from LEAN and KPMG, presented its work on transforming its criminal justice system to the California State Association of Counties.

San Bernardino County

The J-SCI team works with several departments within San Bernardino County to promote cross-system change to increase successful reentry.

J-SCI presented the San Bernardino jail study to the Law and Justice Committee, which includes all the departments involved in the criminal justice system. The committee was expanded this year when Behavioral Health Department was added.

The jail study was also presented to the Reentry Collaborative, which is headed by the Behavioral Health Department and includes county agencies, community organizations and individuals dedicated to successful reentry.

To track the progress of a program to reduce recidivism among inmates with mental health needs, Corrections to a Safer Community (CTASC), the J-SCI team is working with the County Behavioral Health Department.

The J-SCI team is also assisting the county to identify a staff member who can coordinate the county’s cross-system work. This role was another recommendation in the jail study.

Santa Cruz County

As the request of Santa Cruz County, J-SCI conducted a jail study that found most bookings are drug and alcohol related and make up the majority of releases before arraignment. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the recommendations put forward in the study. They also directed the Sheriff-Coroner and the Chief Probation Officer to implement the recommendations and report on their progress in 2018.

Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHOSAC)

The J-SCI team provided strategic direction and public affairs support to MHSOAC during its 18-month review of the intersection of people with mental health needs and the criminal justice system. The collaboration resulted in “Together We Can: Reducing Criminal Justice Involvement for People with Mental Illness,” a roadmap to address this complex and growing issue in California.

Proposition 47 Funds

Using data from their respective J-SCI jail studies, both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties received anti-recidivism funding from the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, otherwise known as Proposition 47.


Looking forward, J-SCI will continue its work in 2018 with its partner counties that include:

  • Building a new program in San Bernardino to encourage successful reentry
  • Using new data to gauge the success of programs such as CTASC in San Bernardino
  • Continuing the juvenile detention study in Riverside
  • Participating in reentry efforts in Riverside

MacDonald adds, “We expect 2018 to be another important year for us and our partner counties as cross-system change continues to be the key in transforming justice systems.”


Nadine Ono

All stories by: Nadine Ono