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Saturday, April 28, 2007

East Palo Alto Starts New Parollee Reentry Program

The Palo Alto Daily News reports:
When they are released into East Palo Alto, prison parolees will be offered an array of services designed to help them adjust to society and, it is hoped, avoid the kind of trouble that got them behind bars in the first place.

Thanks to a $3.3 million California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections grant, the city will run a pilot parolee program over the next 3 1/2 years that is expected to aid about 120 parolees annually. The city, which already has about 200 parolees, signed a contract for the grant this week.

"I would say it has officially started," police Chief Ron Davis said.

If successful, the pilot program eventually could become the model for a statewide version, Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, who sponsored a bill authorizing the experiment, said.

Split into three phases, the program exacts various commitments from parolees, including 2,000 hours of community service work such as cleaning up graffiti or giving public speeches. Parolees also must take regular drug tests and visit program staff daily. In return, they can get help with obtaining housing, getting jobs, enrolling in school, or receiving substance abuse counseling and treatment.

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