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California Attorney General Launches Initiative To Reduce Recidivism

Evening Edition

Aired 11/25/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guest

Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County district attorney

Transcript

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has launched a statewide initiative to combat repeat violations by offenders previously convicted of crimes, it was announced Monday.

The effort is a partnership between the California Department of Justice's new Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry and the state's counties and district attorneys, according to Harris' office.

The division will partner with district attorneys to share effective practices and develop policy initiatives, including the formulation of a uniform definition of recidivism, identifying and securing grants to fund programs and using technology to analyze data and develop methods of measuring recidivism rates.

"California's district attorneys bring vital experience to the challenge of reducing recidivism, and it is important their perspective is incorporated," Harris said. "This new division will support innovative, evidence-based approaches to recidivism solutions in California."

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the new program will give prosecutors the accurate data needed to have an impact on public safety.

"I look forward to working with other prosecutors in developing effective diversion programs for nonviolent offenders and seeking funds to expand alternative sentencing courts," she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said his department has been "a national leader in rehabilitating jail inmates while incarcerated and those efforts will only be enhanced with proven re-entry strategies focusing on helping offenders be successful upon release from jails and prisons."

Existing California Department of Justice resources will be used to fund the new division, which will have three subdivisions focused on program development, evaluation and grants, officials said.

Harris launched a program to combat recidivism among nonviolent, low-level drug offenders in 2005, when she was the district attorney in San Francisco.

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