Shasta County Grand Jury finds AB 109 funds were spent on general fund programs

REDDING, Calif. — A Shasta County Grand Jury report released Friday revealed that AB 109 funds given to Shasta County to add and create rehabilitative programs and services to reduce recidivism were spent on programs previously funded by the county general fund.

According to the report, since 2011, Shasta County has received Assembly Bill 109 funding from the State of California for use in dealing with persons formerly incarcerated in state prisons and reassigned to county responsibility.

The 2017-2018 Shasta County Grand Jury found that Shasta County Community Corrections Partnership has received over $45.7 million from October 2011 through December 2017 for this purpose.

That money was specifically designated to compensate Shasta County for additional costs incurred due to California Assembly Bill 109.

The report says up until 2018, over $39 million of those funds had already been distributed, without use of a standardized system to evaluate and approve funding requests.

Officials said the intent of Assembly Bill 109 funding is to add and create rehabilitative programs and services to reduce recidivism.

Review of the county budget shows the money has, at time, been used for programs previously funded by the county general fund. Officials said this reduces the opportunities for new rehabilitative programs and services.

The report states, "This is evidenced by the Shasta County Jail where funded jail beds have not been increased above 2008 levels, despite an influx of Assembly Bill 109 funding. Jail beds are currently at capacity. Two thirds of this capacity has been provided using Assembly Bill 109 funds".

Officials said Shasta County General Funds could have been used, as previously allocated to provide funding for all three detention levels at the jail. They added this would have allowed over $2 million in Assembly Bill 109 funds to still be available for the operational costs of an expanded jail capacity.

The Grand Jury found that the county should be using general funds to fund current capacity and that Assembly Bill 109 funds could be used for operational costs of the expansion of jail facilities.

The report says the Community Correction Partnership has also recently begun funding ongoing Shasta County public safety programs using unspent fund balances, which will be depleted by the end of fiscal year 2020-2021.

Officials said this depletion of funds will leave a $2 million budget shortfall which funds programs and services for the Shasta County Probation Department and the Shasta County Jail.

The report added that the Community Corrections Partnership does not routinely collect evaluative data or require program evaluations to show current spending is effective in reducing recidivism.

In addition, the report states, "The Shasta County Board of Supervisors has not appointed a member or designee to sit on the Community Corrections Partnership, as required by law. This is significant because the Board of Supervisors is responsible for approving the Community Corrections Partnership plans and budgets".

Officials said this investigation was undertaken by the Shasta County Grand Jury after routine reviews of Shasta County budgets indicated the county funding appeared, at times, to have been replaced by AB 109 funding.

The Shasta County Grand Jury is recommending that the Board of Supervisors identify alternate funding sources to offset the 25 percent decrease in available AB 109 funding that will occur in the new two to three years.

They are also recommending that the Board of Supervisors review information on how spending of AB 109 funds has reduced recidivism before approving future budgets.

Finally, they are recommending that the Board of Supervisors ensures that AB 109 funds allocated to the Shasta County Jail are used to support increased capacity about pre-AB 109 levels or redirected to other purposes consistent with AB 109 objectives.

June 8, 2018

KRCR News 7

By Haleigh Pike

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