STOCKTON — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will hold an evening study session Tuesday with a focus on public safety.
Board Vice Chairman Bob Elliott and Supervisor Carlos Villapudua are taking the lead in hosting the forum, which is the third to be presented by the board in an effort to get the public more involved in the civic government process.
“Public safety is a key issue that I think is on everybody’s minds these days,” Elliott said. “This is one of the five priorities we as a board adopted last December, and I think this is something the citizens of our community will show a great interest in.”
Elliott said several county departments, including Behavioral Health Services, Probation, and the Public Defender’s Office will present updates of programs that have been implemented in recent years, as well as present ideas to improve the county’s criminal justice system, such as seeking grants and implementing new programs.
The county’s Public Defender’s Office will update supervisors and the public of the programs it offers to those who suffer from mental illness, as well as the homeless, which Elliott said are often linked.
The county’s Probation Department will discuss the effects of public safety realignment under Assembly Bill 109. The bill, enacted in 2011, provides that nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual offenders serving more than a year in state prison would be transferred to county jails.
An update of recidivism rates — or the rate of offenders being re-arrested and cycling through the county’s justice system — will also be presented.
The county Public Defender’s Office will present an update of the Clean Slate program, which under 2014’s Proposition 47 provides ways for those who have had their sentences commuted to successfully transition back into society.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar will present an update of her department’s Navigator Program, aimed at keeping at-risk teens and young adults out of jail.
The program was started last year through a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, and offers an alternative to jail time for those charged with drug, violence or gang-related crimes.
As an example, Verber Salazar said a young man was arrested for manufacturing and selling honey oil, a powerful and potent alternative to marijuana. The young man also burned down the house in which he was making the drug, she said.
Prior to charging him, the District Attorney’s Office evaluated the man and assigned a “navigator” to help him through a program that would allow him to avoid jail time if it was completed.
Verber Salazar said 70 percent of those arrested for drugs, violence or gang-related incidents have gone through the program. She’s hoping to increase that to as much as 90 percent this year.
“We’ve seen several incidents where individuals come to us with cases like this,” she said. “We find that maybe we can take a chance on them and help keep them out of the system.”
Verber Salazar said she will also present an expansion of the program this evening that will focus on those who suffer from mental health issues.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office will present its efforts to protect the public since its creation in 1850.
Elliott and Villapudua both serve on committees related to the county’s criminal justice system. Elliott serves on the Joint City/County Criminal Task Force, and Villapudua serves on the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.
“I just think public safety is something that’s near and dear to my heart, and it’s near and dear to the hearts of many of our county residents,” Elliott said. “Everyone wants to improve public safety as much as we can, and this is one way we can discuss all the safety issues facing the county so we can provide safe streets in our community, improve response times in unincorporated areas and just improve the county overall.”
The board’s first evening study session was held in May and focused on water issues facing the county. The second session was held at the San Joaquin County Office of Education in July with a focus on education.
A fourth study session focused on the county economy will be held Nov. 2, while the final study session focused on homelessness will be held Nov. 16.
Tuesday’s study session begins at 5:30 p.m. in board chambers, 44 N. San Joaquin St., 6th Floor, in Stockton.
— Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/bowersblog and on Twitter @WBowersTSR.