April 28, 2012

California Sheriff to Open Inmate Auto Shop

THE TEHAMA County Sheriff, Dave Hencratt, is trying to deal with the burden of increased jail population due to state prison realignment in Assembly Bill 109.

AB109, which took effect in October, sent some low-level offenders who would have gone on parole, from state prisons to county probation jurisdiction, and rewrote the laws so new low-level offenders would be sentenced to county jail instead of prison.

With an increased inmate population, Sheriff Hencratt needed to save space and money in the jail.

His idea?

Start a county vehicle maintenance shop where 70 inmates, who spend nights at their homes, could learn auto repair and maintenance skills.

The California Corrections Partnership thought his idea was solid and they gave roughly $45,000, mostly in startup costs, to create the work release program. Offenders who qualify for the program would be eligible to train in fields such as auto detailing, oil changes, changing tires and other minor vehicle maintenance duties.

The Sheriff figure he can keep 12 guys very busy, everyday.

Eventually the job training program could include certifications of completion for participants who successfully work through each skill or training portion. The participants would be supervised by a deputy with experience in mechanics and vehicle maintenance. All major vehicle repair work would still be done by certified mechanics but the routine maintenance done by the work release inmates would save the department money.

Bottom line - this creative program helps with Tehama County's jail overcrowding, it saves the county money and in the long term it may reduce recidivism because it gives inmates a job skill which could be used to land real employment.

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