Felons’ Choice: Jail or Home Free With No Record
And with that choice comes the jail felony record. But for those offenders that choose to endure, about one year later these graduates benefit when the felony charge is wiped clean from their record. And that’s not the only benefit; they’re only one-fifth as likely to return to incarceration as the City’s average. Four years of Back On Track experience shows a recidivism rate of only 10 percent instead of the usual 50 percent or higher average return through SF’s revolving doors.
Developed by Kamala D. Harris, District Attorney, the program takes a full year to complete, and requires participants to “get educated, stay employed, be responsible parents, drug test, and transition to a crime-free life,” according to the DA’s article appearing on the Huffington Post website. That sounds easy. But what’s truly entailed is that they must “plead guilty to their crime, and their sentence is deferred while they appear before a judge every two weeks for about a year. They must obtain a high-school-equivalency diploma and hold down a steady job. Fathers need to remain in good standing on their child-support payments, and everyone has to take parenting classes.”
The program’s success didn’t go unnoticed. Governor Schwarzenegger just signed into law a bill that establishes Back On Track as a model reentry program for California counties. Other states are looking at the program too.
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