Interaction Between Post-Release
Community Supervision and Ex-Offenders:
The Effects of Rehabilitation on Recidivism
March 11, 2016
California has been dealing with overcrowding in prisons for the last few decades, as
living standards of inmates are unhealthy, unsafe, and inhumane. Not only has this
overpopulation caused health concerns, it has also put into question the system’s effectiveness.
Over the past three decades, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR) has made efforts to counterbalance the spike of inmates. However, the CDCR has only
been able to mask the problem by spreading inmates out, while maintaining problematic rates of
recidivism contributing to the failure of inmate rehabilitation while hindering their transition
back to society.
The prison system was designed to not only bring a sense of security to its law-abiding
citizens while penalize its offenders, but also to rehabilitate these individuals. Unfortunately,
upon release, former offenders not only face recidivism; but also a much higher rate of mortality
than the average citizen, due to their limited resources (Binswanger ). While in prison, inmates
lack freedom and opportunities to make decisions for themselves losing their basic sense of
responsibility. For many ex-offenders, reintegration becomes even more difficult as society
shuns them as a result of previous convictions. With little to no support upon release, it becomes
difficult for them to obtain housing, food, and employment in order to survive. It becomes
unrealistic for them to reintegrate into society and maintain low recidivism rates, when they lack
money, training and support upon release.
In recent years, California has been setting in place population reduction measures. In
2011, California enacted Public Safety Realignment with the passage of Assembly Bill 109 (AB
109), moving many offenders from state prisons to county jails. This measure was not only
intended to shift individuals from the prison level to county jails, but also intended to provide
better rehabilitation measures to reduce recidivism rates (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three
Since the 1980’s American, in particular California has witnessed an exponential increase
in its prison population. In 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(CDCR) population was 287,444; of these individuals 162,821 were currently serving their
sentence while 123,578 were on parole (Krimetz). In recent years, realignment has drastically
decreased the prison population. According to the weekly summaries from CDCR, in February
2016 the total individuals currently serving a prison sentences were 127,326 (Weekly Report of
Population). Since 2011, California has engaged in countless efforts to realign, although it is
important to meet quotas, it is also important to ensure that individuals receive proper services to
Many times communities become reluctant to provide the services needed to rehabilitate
individuals. They become fearful that by providing treatment and employment services, they will
be opening the doors to an influx of criminals who can potentials put their well being at risk or
become competition in the job market, if rehabilitated. However, according to Penal Code
Section 3003(a) an inmate who is released on parole shall be returned to the county, which was
the last legal residence of the individual prior to incarceration ("Division of Adult Parole
Operations Statutory Parole Requirements"). As individuals will be returning to the county in
which they last resided in, it becomes optimal to provide the necessary resources for
After being in prison, where they lived on a set routine many individuals find themselves
at a crossroads within the first few hours upon release as they must find immediate shelter to
spend the night. Unfortunately, this decision does not come with many alternatives, as the
financial resources of those who do not have a home to return to, are limited. Many are forced to
stay in shelters or spend the night on the streets considering the many barriers that exist to access
public housing. Being on the streets not only hinders community supervision, but it also creates
obstacles for rehabilitation, employment, and education, enabling old habits to reemerge. It
becomes critical that we prepare ex-offenders to properly reintegrate into society upon release to
reduce their possibility of recidivating.
Since 2011, the Board of Supervisors in Los Angeles County introduced the Public
Safety Realignment Team (PSRT), which focuses on coordinating and implementing a
realignment plan. The purpose of PSRT is to involve departments and criminal justice agencies
that are impacted by realignment in order to produce the best outcomes for the community
(Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). It is important to examine the impact that Post-
Release Community Supervision (PRCS) programs are having, to better determine how they can
be improved or expanded in other counties. It is important that California not only focus on
reducing prison overcrowding, but also takes strides in rehabilitate individuals who have been
released to ensure they do not return to prison.
In 2009, the United States had the highest incarceration rates internationally, housing
about 2.3 million people in prisons and jails, while California alone housed about 171,281
inmates (Monthly Report of Population). According to the most recent California Prisoners and
Parolees report conducted by CDCR, prior to Realignment, in 2010 the number of
institutionalized offenders had dropped to 162,821, while the active parolee population consisted
of 123,578 individuals (Krimetz). During the 2009-10 fiscal year, 42 percent had recidivated
within the first year of release and within three years of release this percentage had increased to
54.3 percent. As we can see in Figure 1, there was a decrease from previous years; however,
recidivism rates along with prison overcrowding are still significant matters to deal with (Beard).
California is now in its fifth year of one of its most endeavoring correctional reforms it
known as “Public Safety Realignment” (AB 109). Although realignment is still in early stages it
is difficult to denote the impact it is having on recidivism rates statewide. However, what we do
know is that California’s prison population has significantly decreased in the years since
realignments as noted in Figure 2. With realignment in place individuals are receiving new
Prison population has significantly dropped to 127,312 individuals since its peak in 2009.
66.2% 65.6% 66.8% 67.5% 65.1% 63.7%
2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Return to Prison
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total CDCR Population
Total CDCR Population at the Beginning of the Year
Source: CDCR 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report
opportunities to reintegrate, as AB 109 was motivated with the idea that counties can better
target recidivism rates (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). However, as a state our
obligations do not stop once individuals are released, it is important to help them successfully
reintegrate into society.
With the passage of AB 109 the state created legislation, which transferred authority over
lower-level felons from state prisons to county jails, and from the parolee system to the probation
system. Lower-level felons were classified as those convicted of non-violent, non-serious, non-
sex offenses (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). AB 109 creates Post-Release
Community Supervision (PRCS), causing county probation departments to become responsible
for the supervision of eligible offenders after their release from prison (Public Safety
Realignment Year-Three Report ). PRCS become responsible for the coordination’s of
rehabilitation services for eligible offenders.
Although AB 109 created a significant decrease in prison population it has caused great
pressures on county jail systems. According to Los Angeles County Public Safety Realignment
Year-Three Report jail population has seen a drastic increase from 15,463 inmates the month
before realignment to 19,600 inmates in March 2014. Within the following months this
population once again dropped to about 15,770 inmates due to the implementation of Proposition
47. Prop 47, reclassified several felony drug and theft-related offenses to misdemeanors,
allowing some individuals who were previously convicted as felons to be resentences for
misdemeanor (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report ).
With the vast changes our prison and jail system are undertaking we must not only focus
on the extensive reduction of inmates made over the last few years. Releasing so many
individuals’ calls for an urgent evaluation of the programs offered at the county level, which are
intended to rehabilitate and easy individuals reintegration while reducing recidivism rates. As
prisoners are released they are immediately challenged to find appropriate housing. Their efforts
to find housing are generally hindered by their lack of financial means. Which in turn hinders
their ability to enroll in course work, apply for jobs, and enter rehabilitation services, leaving
them in a vicious cycle, which threatens their successful reintegration.
Since the introduction of realignment counties have been delegated the task of
introducing or expanding their rehabilitation services to better serve their populations needs.
Several counties have introduced Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS) programs since
the passage of AB 109, making it becomes important to examine the effectiveness of the
programs offered. Effectiveness can be measured in a variety of ways: cost effective, reduction
in prison population, recidivism, effect on crime rates, and impact on the local communities
("Californians for Safety and Justice"). For the purpose of this research, effectiveness will be
measured based on the total number of participants who successfully completely different
portions of the program and the impact the integration of these participants had on Los Angeles
As L.A. County holds about one-fourth of California’s population and also has the largest
jail and prison population, I believe it is important to take a closer look. L.A. County is
demographically diverse, making it a culturally rich county, which provides an immense number
of employment opportunities: construction, tourism, entertainment, manufacturing, and retail to
name a few. Although the variety of employment opportunities in L.A. County are rather large
there are several obstacles to those with limited resources as housing cost have been increasing at
a faster rate in the county that across the state. Generally the more affordable regions in Los
Angeles County are also the regions, which lack employment opportunities. Considering public
transportation in L.A. County is not very convenient or highly accessible it becomes difficult to
get around and seek employment opportunities that are not within ones proximity. With limited
mobility and ability to pay bills, L.A. County residents are forced on to the streets. Considering
Los Angeles County is one of the leading economies it however, has numerous restrictions for
those with limited resources. I believe the diversity and constraints LA County offers, makes it
an excellent county to examine the impact of its PRCS program, as it can serve others as a
benchmark to produce improvements in their PRCS programs.
For any rehabilitation program to be successful it is important to have a suitable
environment to maximize the benefits received by those partaking in PRCS programs. Given the
unemployment rates, median monthly housing cost, poverty levels, and homeless rates in Los
Angeles County, we can begin to examine the effectiveness and possible negative impacts this
can cause on treatment and services provided. Looking at the PRCS program L.A. County
currently has in place, I will look at the substance abuse, mental health, and housing/employment
components the program offers to its participants. I will, look at the total number of people who
entered the program, the number of people who completed the program, and those who have
violated the program. Taking into account the currently circumstances in the county it will be
easier to denote the effectiveness of the services while looking at the effects that PRCS programs
have had on Los Angeles County.
I reviewed the Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report released by the County of
Los Angeles to determine the number of participates each program accepts, along with the
positive and negative outcomes of each program. This will allow for a better understanding of
the effects realignment has had on L.A. County and how other counties can use these finding to
implement better programs. It is necessary to take into account L.A. County’s poverty levels and
median monthly housing cost as those determined by the U.S. Census, homeless rates determined
by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and unemployment rates which are
determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in order determine any possible impact they might
have on the programs effectiveness. It is central to compare the numbers before and after
realignment to determine the impact realignment has had on this county.
Not only does Los Angeles County house the largest population in California it also
operates the world’s largest jail system involving more than 30 criminal courthouses and eight
jail facilities (Los Angeles County Jail Overcrowding Reduction ). Prior to realignment, L.A.
County jail facilities contained approximately 15,463 individuals, which were largely composed
of pretrial, sentences with a pending charges, and sentenced individuals (Austin, et al ).
Simultaneously, around this same timeframe California was recovering from the Great Recession
with an annual unemployment rates of 12.1 percent in 2010, Los Angeles County had a very
similar unemployment rate of 12.5 percent (“Local Area Unemployment Statistics Map”). This
made many fearful that releasing so many individuals would cause unemployment rates to
maintain themselves at high levels. High unemployment rates would create larger pools of
competitors in the job market. Others feared for their safety, as they believed individuals would
return to unlawful activities in a matter of time since they would not be able to find employment.
During the months following realignment L.A. County began to see a steady decrease in
unemployment rates reaching 8.2 percent in 2014 and 6.7 percent in 2015. During the first three
years, which is what we will focus on, crime rates maintained themselves at steady levels. In
2015, crime rates in LA County peaked, but according to the mayor this crime spike can be
attributed to Proposition 47, which changed some nonviolent crimes from felonies to
During the recovery period after the Great Recession, 2010 to 2014, California
experienced a gradual increase in median monthly housing cost from $1,381 to $1,399 (U.S.
Census Bureau ). Unfortunately, L.A. County has experience an increase in median monthly
housing cost at much higher rates increasing from $1,347 to $1,412 (U.S. Census Bureau ). With
approximately 18 percent of its population living in below poverty standards, the lack of
affordable housing in L.A. County has driven many individuals into homelessness. Prior to
realignment Los Angeles County’s homeless population stood at about 33,243 individuals,
increasing to about 34,393 individuals in 2014 (“Continuum of Care Homeless Populations and
Although poverty rates, median housing cost, and homelessness in L.A. County are
alarming they have maintained themselves rather stable with minimal increases over time.
However, unemployment rates have dropped by nearly half making for promising conditions for
those entering the work force. As the conditions in L.A. County have remained rather stable the
effectiveness of Los Angeles’ PRCS program will be minimally impacted but the changing
conditions the county experienced.
Los Angeles PRCS:
To obtain a preliminary understanding of the effectiveness of L.A.’s PRCS program, I
will examine the different treatment options provided, along with the outcomes each program has
had over the last few years. Considering realignment is in its early stages, many see it as a means
to allow inmates early release, as this is not the case it is important to examine the services the
county has set in place along with the various social economic factors that might influence the
outcome of the program (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report ).
Individuals released from county jails are placed in PRCS, unless their most recent prison
conviction was for a serious or violent felony, they are high-risk offenders, or are designated
with mental disorders (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). Felons currently in state
prison will continue to carry out their sentence in state prison. PRCS will be offered to
individuals for no more than three years, with the opportunity to terminate early if there are no
probation violations (Luhrs).
Over the course of the past four years (2011-2014) Los Angeles County has accepted a
total of 24,947 participants, of which they have been able to terminate 13,559 cases (Figure 3).
The 8,128 cases that
are currently still
active have been
accumulated from all
three years (Public
Year-Three Report ).
rehabilitation services offered to PRCS participants are substance abuse, mental health, health
care, employment and housing services. Detoxification locations have also largely increased
their availability in L.A. County, adding about 180 treatment facilities (Public Safety
Realignment Year-Three Report ).
Outstanding Warrants at
End of Year
Active Cases at End of
Termination due to a New
Assembly Bill 109 has emphasized the importance of accessible office locations through
the County in order to better serve this population. As noted on the map below, there are several
probation offices, substance abuse prevention and control sites, mental health clinics, and
housing/employment providers spread throughout the county (Public Safety Realignment Year-
Three Report ). As we can see in Map 1, the AB 109 Locations are distributed largely around the
areas where Postrelease Supervised Person’s (PSP) are concentrated. However, the locations are
evidently out-numbered by they number of PSP. Although the department has gradually
increased staff, it appears that we also need an increase in service locations to better serve this
AB 109 – Probation Offices and Treatment Sites
Source: Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee 2015
Substance Abuse Treatment:
PSP are assessed by Community Assessment Services Centers (CASC) for substance
abuse use disorders and referred to treatment when appropriate. Between 2011-2014,
approximately 18,000 individuals
were assessed, from this
population 5,755 (32 percent)
were determined to not need
treatment, while 10,414 (58
percent) individuals required
treatment (Public Safety
Realignment Year-Three Report).
Yet, it is interesting that during
the programs first year, there
were 11,513 total accepted cases into the PRCS program, however only 4,481 were actually
assessed (Figure 5). The second year witnessed a 53 percent increase in assessment while an 83
percent increase in substance use disorder referrals (2,210 to 4,046).
During the second year there was only 6,865 cases accepted in the PRCS program in
addition to the 9,109 active cases carried over from the first year (Public Safety Realignment
Year-Three Report). As there is a combinations of newly accepted plus a carry over from the
Population Year One Year Two Year Three Total
Total Cases Accepted 11,513 6,865 6,569 24,947
Active Cases at End of Year 9,109 7,957 8,128 8,128
CASC Total Cases 4,481 6,875 6,639 17,995
(Referred to Treatment)
2,210 4,046 4,158 10,414
Treatment Required No Treatment Required
Other (Transfers) Refused Treatment
previous year it is understandable that the number of cases assessed and the number of
individuals who require treatment would substantially change increase during the second year.
Not to mention, as the program progresses and resources evolve, it becomes easier to address the
needs of more individuals. Nevertheless, it becomes unfortunate that only about half of the
individuals who require treatment actually receive this treatment as illustrated in Figure 6.
It is important to further develop research in order to determine why only about half of
the individuals who are identified as requiring treatment actually receive the treatment needed. It
is vital to conclude why individuals who are referred to treatment are not actually admitted.
Substance abuse can lead to a number of behavioral problems including aggressiveness,
hallucinations, and loss of self-control to name a few. If only a fourth of those assessed properly
complete treatment it is imperative to examine the disconnect between those assessed and those
admitted. It appears that those who are admitted and discharged with a positive compliance in
treatment have significant decreases in homeless status (21 percent), emergency room visits (36
percent) and physical health problems (30 percent) (Public Safety Realignment Year-Three
Substance abuse treatment in L.A. County has proven to have a positive impact on those
who take part in the program. Individuals with positive compliance to treatment present less risk
(44 percent) of being arrested for a new crime, than those with negative compliance (58 percent)
(Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). Similarly those who participate in social support
recovery activities were more likely to be discharged with positive compliance (61 percent) than
Population Year One Year Two Year Three Total
Admissions 1,434 2,185 2,279 5,898
Discharge 1,266 1,992 1,538 4,796
Positive Treatment Compliance 658 930 641 2,229
Negative Treatment Compliance 526 916 741 2,183
Other 82 146 156 384
those who did not participate in social recovery activities (47 percent). While individuals engage
in recovery programs it is imperative that they become involved in social recovery activities, not
only does it increase their change of having successfully completing the program, it also
significantly reduces their chance of a new arrest. Social recovery activities enable a support
system while allowing individuals to build skills, which will become essential for reintegrating.
Mental Health Treatment:
The Department of Mental Health (DMH) provides the AB 109 population with mental
health and co-occurring mental health- substance use disorder services. For individuals who are
eligible, the DMH screens and
identifies PSP’s prior to release from
prison (Public Safety Realignment
Year-Three Report). Since 2011, the
DMH has determined that 7,052
individuals in PRCS required
treatment. The number of individuals
who were assessed and referred to
mental health treatment is only 1,051,
substantially lower than the 5,992 individuals who were assessed and referred to treatment for
co-occurring disorders (Figure 7).
Unfortunately, with mental health treatment services, it is significantly more difficult to
assess the positive and negative compliance rates. Nevertheless, the DMH witnessed an increase
in treatment engagement from 45 to 67 percent in the second year, yet the third year witnessed a
decline to 46 percent. Although there is a considerable decrease during the third year, this can be
Individuals Assessed and
Mental Health Treatment Co-Occuring Disorders
attributed to those released because of Proposition 36. Having data from a few more years would
allow us to better assess the impact of mental health treatments as we would be allowed to out
weigh the effects of Proposition 36, making more accurate correlations between mental health
treatments and arrests rates. Currently re-arrest rates for PSPs in mental health treatment are at
26 percent for those released in the first year, and 14 percent for those released in the third year
(Public Safety Realignment Year-Three Report). Unfortunately, these are not comparable groups
since re-arrest rates for those released in the first year are an aggregate of all three years they
have been out.
In order to be able to determine the correlation between treatment compliance and arrest
rates and an in-depth research study needs to be completed. It is essential to determine the exact
number of individuals who were assessed, those who were referred to treatment, admitted to
treatment, and compliance with treatment in order to determine the success rates between those
who entered treatment versus those who did not enter treatment, but were referred to treatment. It
is also critical to define how many individuals were re-arrested in the first, second and third year
of their release.
Housing and Employment:
Housing and job readiness services are provided to PRCS participants through Health
RIGHT 360 (HR360). HR 360 provided participants sober living, transitional housing, shelter,
skilled nursing facilities, and recuperative housing services. As we can see in Figure 8, use for
most resources begins to increase from year to year. Unfortunately, once again it is unclear if
those utilizing the resources in year two and three are solely from the PSPs who were admitted in
that year or if year two and three figures include participants whose cases were still active from
the previous year.
This problem is once again presented within those taking advantage of HR 360
transportation and job readiness services. HR 360 also provides employment programs: job skills
training, employment preparation, and employment placement to name a few. As public
transportation in Los Angeles County is not very accessible the fact that transportation is
provided to individuals is indispensible when searching for employment. Nevertheless, it is
puzzling to see a decrease in demand for these services. Although unemployment rates for the
county have substantially lowered,
it brings to question if job
readiness services are witnessing a
decrease because ex-offenders do
not have such a hard time
obtaining employment or if there is
another reason as to why this
service is not being utilized.
Referring back to Map 1,
0 204 4
Board and Care Sober Living Sober Living with
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Transportation Job Readiness
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Transportation & Employment
we can see that Housing/Employment Service Providers are largely provided to PRCS
participants and there location also seems to be highly accessible, however the data available is
minimal. It becomes difficult to assess the effectiveness of job readiness since there is no
explicate data as to how individuals are qualify to take part of HR360 employment opportunities
or whether this component of the program is open to all individuals.
As we can see the effects of Assembly Bill 109 “Public Safety Realignment” have had
minimal effects on the economic well being of Los Angeles County. One of the largest
oppositions many had was the lack of currently employment. As those on the lower end of the
spectrum have a difficult time obtaining employment in L.A. they feared that releasing a large
number of individuals will only hinder their opportunities. This common misconception is
reinforces as Penal Code Section 3003(a) states that an inmate who is released on parole shall be
returned to the county, which was their last legal residence prior to incarceration ("Division of
Adult Parole Operations Statutory Parole Requirements"). However, under AB 109 individuals
are not being released early. AB 109 simply creates Post-Release Community Supervision
(PRCS) in which eligible offenders are placed under county probation supervision.
Unfortunately, AB 109 did not have much impact on L.A. County as its unemployment
rate largely decreased and began to stabilize itself after the Great Recession. Median monthly
housing cost in L.A. County increase by about sixty-five dollars, this can also be attributed to the
stabilization of the market, and not necessarily an increase in demand from those being released.
Los Angeles County residents appear to have been impacted on a larger magnitude by the market
than by the release of individuals, however it is those released that experienced the largest impact
by the existing conditions of the county.
With the passage of AB 109 in 2011, Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS)
programs came into effect, as it is believed that counties can have a greater impact on recidivism
rates statewide. At this stage, it is still a bit early to determine whether L.A. County’s PRCS
program had the intended outcome.
With current statistics we can draw minimal conclusions, it appears that L.A.’s PRCS
program is having positive effects on its participants. Individuals who engage in treatment appear
to be doing better off reducing their rate of arrest and likelihood of being homeless. Yet, in order
to measure its true effectiveness further data needs to be collected to on the participants who
successfully completely different portions of the program. In the short run, it is essential that the
different treatment and services provided collect data on the individuals who are referred to
treatment but are not admitted. In order to have a lasting impact, the county needs to understand
the disconnect between those referred and those who are admitted to treatment, in order to
develop strategies to have those number resemble each other as best as possible. L.A. County
must also account for the effects of Proposition 47 and Proposition 36 to better understand the
direct impact the county’s efforts are having on rehabilitation.
Employment, being a factor that largely contributes to successful reintegration needs to
be studies in-depth. It is critical to collect, study and examine data on the individuals who enter
PRCS programs based on their rate of employment, the individuals who obtained employment
without the assistance of job readiness services, the individuals who engaged in different
components of job readiness services, along with the rate at which they obtained employment.
In the long term, it would be beneficial to collect data in regards to the number of
individuals who take advantage of more than one component of the different treatments and
services offered by the county. By doing so we would be able to compare the success of
individuals who became involved in more than one component of the program.
If Los Angeles and other counties began to collect extensive data on the individuals who
take part of their services, it would become easier to analyze the services offered to them. As of
now, it is evident that the CDCR has been able to substantially decrease its population, now
counties must focus on their PRCS programs to ensure they are providing individuals with the
best resources possible to reduce their rate of recidivism.
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