Nov 11, 2009

Back on Track in San Francisco

Prosecutors across the country are seeing the value in targeting reentry as a public safety issue -- indeed, the prevention of recidivism through drug treatment, accountability measures, and other support mechanisms means fewer crimes and safer streets. In Brooklyn DA Charles J. Hynes was a leader on this front with the successful ComAlert Program.

Kamala D. Harris, the elected District Attorney of San Francisco, is one of these enlightened DA's and has an article in the Huffington Post about "Back On Track," a reentry program designed for nonviolent, first-time drug offenders.

There have been some good results for the program:

"For this population, the recidivism (or re-offense rate) is typically 50 percent or higher. Four years since the creation of this initiative, recidivism has been less than 10 percent among Back On Track graduates. And the program costs only $5,000 per person, compared to over $35,000 a year for county jail. That saves our city roughly $1 million per year in jail costs alone. When you add in the total expense of criminal prosecutions to taxpayers, including court costs, public defenders, state prison, and probation, the savings are closer to $2 million. And we cannot even begin to quantify the value of these individuals' future productivity, taxes and child support payments, or the brightened prospects for their families."

For more about Kamala D. Harris, who is the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco's history and the first African American woman in California to hold the office, click here.