ACLU Forum: Community Planning For Released Prison Inmates
How Will Local Communities Cope with the Sudden Influx of Newly Released Prisoners?
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the State of California to release 46,000 inmates — more than one-fourth of the state’s prison population — over the next two years to relieve overcrowding. As many as 156,000 prisoners have been crowded into prisons built to hold 80,000 inmates, leading to the court order.
In presenting the narrow 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the bench about suicidal prisoners being held in “telephone booth-sized cages without toilets” and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who died before being seen by a doctor.
Initially, state officials at various levels drew up plans designed to shift inmates to out-of-state prisons or move into county jails across the state without actually releasing any prisoners, plans that ultimately ran afoul of budget realities, if not good sense and the law. Consequently, many thousands of supposedly low-risk offenders are indeed being released onto California streets.
The number of nonviolent, non-serious, non-sexual prisoners the San Gabriel Valley alone will receive through 2012 is between 1,000 and 1,500. What will be the impact on local communities and families of these (primarily) men?
Local community leaders were not caught flat-footed. Two years ago, the Pasadena Police Department, working with the Flintridge Center and other community groups, set up an innovative program called PACT – Pasadena Altadena Community Team.
Modeled on what reformers hope to achieve, PACT brings police and sheriff’s deputies together with caregivers and support organizations and uses an outreach program to identify the needs of paroles and get them help – if they are ready.
Hear from key leaders in this effort to successfully reintegrate returning prisoners into this community at the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter’s March Forum: Brian Biery from the Flintridge Foundation, Commander Darryl Qualls from the Pasadena Police Department, and Mary Weaver from Friends Outside, a support organization of inmate families and friends.
What: ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter Forum:
When: Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m.
Where: Neighborhood Church, 301 North Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena
Treva Brandon Scharf: I use these parks and trails for exercise, for social time with friends, for activities with out-of-towners, for romantic outings, and for the spiritual benefits I get from communing with nature.