City programs assist parolees
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 18, 2006
City officials presented a variety of programs created to help
ex-offenders re-integrate into the community to deter gang violence.
As requested by the Select Committee on Ending Gun and Gang Violence,
the Office of the Public Defender and the Office of the District
Attorney presented their efforts to address parolees at Monday's
Public defender Jeff Adachi said his office is interested in
creating a re-entry court that specifically addresses parolees
before they leave prison. The program would require parolees to
meet with a caseworker every month to develop a re-entry plan
before they are released from prison.
"We can't order a person when they get out of prison to
go to court because they've already finished their time,"
Adachi said. "We need to look at the people who are getting
out or who are in violation of their probation so they don't end
up in prison again."
The court would be the first of its kind in California, according
to Adachi. Similar courts exist in Indiana and New York. The re-entry
court, including the judge, staff, defender and prosecutors, would
cost the City between $200,000 to $300,000, Adachi reported.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said he appreciated Adachi's efforts
and is hopeful for the possibility of the re-entry court.
"Having a one-stop shop involving service providers will
allow us to get to the problem," Mirkarimi said. "It's
surprising to find out what people don't know once they come out
of the system."
One of the office's successful programs is the Clean Slate program,
Adachi said. The program offers to take misdemeanors off the record
as long as the paroles take part in rehabilitation programs. Drop-in
centers are open on Tuesdays in the Bayview, Western Addition
and Vistacion Valley areas. The program cleared 2,400 records
"The Clean Slate program reignites people to believe in
themselves," Adachi said.
The Office of the District Attorney also has an ex-offender program
called Back on Track. The yearlong program targets first time
drug offenders ranging from the ages of 18 to 30 who have been
involved in the juvenile justice system, said Latefah Simon, director
of reentry programs.
Participants receive full-time jobs through Good Will Industries
and a growing number of other organizations, Simon said. The program
also provides full presidential scholarships to the Academy of
Changing the Odds is another district attorney program that assists
young parolees. The program is an intense training program that
employs participants in local organizations such as The San Francisco
Chronicle and Nordstrom.
"Our intent is for these youths to see that they can have
professional careers of their own so they halt their careers in
the criminal system," Simon said.
Resident Dereck Shelton said he was impressed with the growing
number of programs available for parolees and looks forward to
working with these organizations through his own program launching
Shelton said he will be the new Director of the Crimestoppers
program in San Francisco. The program will have an anonymous 24
hour tip line that allows witnesses to inform about crimes committed
in the city.
"Reform starts in the community," Shelton said. "Any
program that can change the lives of at least one person is a