Santa Clara County To Fund Housing Assistance For Prop. 36 Inmates
Michael Romano, director of the Stanford's Three Strikes Project, spoke with the Daily Journal's Hamed Aleaziz on Santa Clara's efforts in providing housing assistance and other services to newly released inmates and why the support is "so critical."
Santa Clara County supervisors last week approved funding for a pilot program that would provide inmates released under Proposition 36, which reformed the state's three-strikes law, with housing rental subsidies of up to $1,000 per month. Though some details have yet to be worked out, the plan would add to the county's already relatively robust suite of re-entry services available to newly released prisoners whose long-term sentences have been cut short.
"I looked at this from two vantage points," said Joe Simitian, one of the supervisors who approved the funding. "From a public safety standpoint, which is my obvious priority; the second is the wise use of fiscal dollars."
To reintegrate the newly released inmates, who spent on average more than a decade behind bars, such services are essential, said Michael Romano, director of Stanford Law School's Three Strikes Project and a Prop. 36 co-author. He noted that many of the inmates are older and less connected to the community than most other released inmates.
"That's why Santa Clara's effort to provide housing assistance and other services to these people is so critical and so laudable," he said. "Santa Clara is the only county that seems to be stepping up to this challenge," making it "the model for other counties."
Two other counties, Sacramento and Marin, provide re-entry services, but not as extensively as Santa Clara, Romano said. And in Los Angeles County, inmates resentenced under the proposition are only provided access to county re-entry sevices on the condition that they agree to county supervision for up to a year. Approximately 15 percent of the inmates resentenced have agreed to those terms.