On Tuesday, January 15th the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors put the final stamp of approval on $4.035 million dollars that will be invested in community partnerships to develop programs for prisoners in jail and those coming home, including peer mentoring, several one-stop information centers and a pretrial partnership between service providers and the probation department to lower the number of prisoners who are in jail but have yet to be sentenced.
Jonny Perez, the youngest member of the Safe Return Project, which has been involved in the discussions surrounding realignment in Contra Costa County for more than a year now stated that, "If you told me one year ago that I would help stop the expansion of a jail I would have called you crazy, but here we are today. I went from being locked up behind someones jail to stopping the construction of a new jail in my city and county. Today after a whole year of battle we won $4 million dollars for oppurtuintiy for people here in Richmond and the rest of contra costa county."
Richmond Chief of Police, and Community Corrections Partnership member Chris Magnus has been involved in the development of this budget every step of this process, and he stated at the board of supervisors meeting this process has shown the "power of real community involvement."
The meeting featured powerful public testimony from clergy and formerly incarcerated residents who told the story of their own struggles and transformation.
A broad movement of faith leaders, formerly incarcerated residents, civil right's organizations, service providers, and public safety officials have aligned in Contra Costa to build momentum for this significant shift. CCISCO and the Safe Return Project, alongside the Community Advisory Board for the CCP, the Reentry Solutions Group, the League of Women Voters, Richmond Progressive Alliance and many other organizations have helped to build a powerful public voice for investing in people and redemption and not massive incarceration. Contra Costa County is the first and only county in California to withdraw from a proposed jail expansion and is leading the way in pioneering innovative strategies to improve public safety and reduce recidivism.