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  • Kelly Rhone

Facts about transitional housing for parolees in California

OAKLAND, California - Now we’ve got quite the interesting topic for today. While I’ve previously discussed transitional housings for other people, such as sober housings for those transitioning from treatment centers and the like, it made me wonder this time if there were such housings focused on parolees as it had been mentioned multiple times that transitional housings also cater to inmates released from prison, just that we’ve never exactly focused on them before in our previous articles.


Let’s start digging deeper into this! As usual, let’s begin with identifying some terms first to have a clearer idea of what we’re talking about!


What is Parole?

Parole is when an inmate is released under certain conditions before his/her prison sentence had been completed in which the inmate agrees to abide by specific rules and regulations. In turn, if the inmate ever chooses to go against what was agreed upon, he/she will surely be sent back to finish the prison term set beforehand.


After all, it was said that the following had been stated under the law for the U.S. Parole Commission to grant parole if:


(a) the inmate has substantially observed the rules of the institution;

(b) release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect for the law; and

(c) release would not jeopardize the public welfare


History of Parole

This time, let’s have a quick look as to how paroles even came to be.


According to what I’ve read, it was Alexander Maconochie, overseer of the British penal colonies, who came up with the concept of parole back in the 1800s to prepare inmates in returning to society. His parole system at that time involved a three-grade system where the third and final grade gave liberties outside the prison for short periods of time, so long that the inmates obey specific rules as they’d have to start back to the bottom in the case any violation occurred, hence, prisoners earned promotions just like how we did at school, through labor, studies, and good behavior.


Meanwhile, it was Zebulon Brockway, superintendent of the Elmira Reformatory in New York, regarded as “Father of prison reform”, who is featured in the history of parole in the United States as he had developed a two-stage system for it in an attempt to manage the rising number of inmates and rehabilitating them for their eventual release.


Purpose of Parole

So according to justice.gov, Parole has a three-fold purpose:

  1. through the assistance of the United States Probation Officer, a parolee may obtain help with problems concerning employment, residence, finances, or other personal problems which often trouble a person trying to adjust to life upon release from prison;

  2. parole protects society because it helps former prisoners get established in the community and thus prevents many situations in which they might commit a new offense; and

  3. parole prevents needless imprisonment of those who are not likely to commit further crime and who meet the criteria for parole.

How the Parole System Works

Basing on what I’ve found so far, the first step in the parole system is determining the inmate’s eligibility in which the conditions for it are set by each jurisdiction’s specific laws where some crimes are not eligible for parole under any condition, this serves as the reason why conditions tend to vary greatly according to the specific crime that was committed.


Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that while parole is not automatic in most states, especially with the fact that many prisoners want to be released, hence having to apply early on to the parole board to have the nature of the inmate’s crime, his previous criminal record, his/her behavior during incarceration considered, and the statutory guidelines on parole considered, there are some states, such as California, where it works otherwise. In the said states, parole comes automatically to many inmates as long as they haven’t gotten into any trouble and was cooperative while serving the requisite amount of time behind bars.

With that being said, it is no wonder that our time has come to focus on parolees when we turn our sights to California for transitional housings.


Who are Parolees?

Well, looking at its base word being “Parole”, these are the inmates released from prison on parole before their term period finishes. They are those who serve part of their sentence under supervision of their community while being assisted by a parole officer.


Services Available for Parolees

Now according to cdcr.ca.gov, California’s Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) offers the following comprehensive post-release rehabilitative programs and services located in different communities which usually points towards transitional housings:

  • Residential and Live-in Programs. Included in this are all programs providing residency and support services to parolees including Substance Use Disorder Treatment (SUDT), Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, life skills, employment, education, and transitional housing.

  • Outpatient and Drop-in Centers. These programs serve to provide support in employment assistance and placement, relationships, cognitive behavioral interventions, education, housing and vocational training.

On the same topic, there exists California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as well that offers a Transitional Housing Program (THP) that provides safe housing, meals, job and mental health services, and life skills training for parolees released from long-term incarceration.


It should be noted that in California, there are quite a number of re-entry services being offered in which other programs by the CDCR include self-improvement and rehabilitation programs and the “LONG TERM OFFENDER REENTRY RECOVERY PROGRAM” (LTORR), which usually lasts up to 18 days with the possibility of an additional 185 days depending on one’s needs.


Under the rehabilitation and pre-released programs according to ogmm.org are the following:

  • “Arts in Corrections,” a partnership with the California Arts Council. Classes in drawing, creative writing, dance, and theater.

  • Academic classes at all levels, leading to a GED or college credit. Academic classes are available in some form in all California prisons.

  • Self-improvement classes and therapy in the areas of substance abuse, anger management, criminal thinking, family relationships, and other issues. All California prisons include these types of programs.

  • Job training and skills.

  • Pre-release readiness: Classes in financial management and job readiness.

  • Acquisition of a California ID card.

Meanwhile as we all know, people who avail transitional housings do so for a reason and due to certain needs, the same can be said to long-term offenders whose needs are said to be employment, job search and placement training, stress management, victim awareness, computer supported literacy, and life skills. In this program that focus on their needs, the following are offered:

  • Housing

  • Meals

  • Support services and resources

  • Programming

  • Supervision in a safe, clean, and drug-free environment

This program is said to be located in the counties as listed:

  • Alameda

  • Fresno

  • Monterey

  • Sacramento

  • San Diego

In regard to the eligibility for this program, let’s refer to the list from cdcr.ca.gov!


“All parolees subject to the jurisdiction of Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) are eligible for placement in the THP. The participant population served under the THP includes, but not limited to:

  • Life Term Offenders (LTO) granted release from prison will be given first priority;

  • Participants on active parole who have been referred by DAPO who have a need for transitional housing and/or reintegration services (acceptance on a case-by-case basis);

  • Penal Code (PC) Section 290 registrants;

  • Serious and violent offenders (e.g. PC Sections 1192.7 and 667.5); and

  • Additional referrals deemed appropriate by DRP.

  • CDCR will consider placement under the following circumstances on a case-by-case basis:

  • Parolees designated high notoriety;

  • Parolees required to register pursuant to Penal Code PC 457.1 (Arson);

  • Parolees in custody pending local misdemeanor charges that could result in county jail time;

  • Parolees who are identified as members or affiliates of CDCR Security Threat Group I; and

  • Parolees classified as Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP).”

Going back to the ogmm.org, it shows many more programs that can be availed within California only.


Some of the programs are as follows:

  • In-prison rehabilitation programs by the California Department of Corrections.

  • Other in-prison programs.

  • Programs by which eligible prisoners can leave prison under supervision in the final portion of their sentence.

  • California Department of Corrections re-entry programs for prisoners after release.

  • Other re-entry programs for prisoners after release, statewide.

  • Other re-entry programs for prisoners after release for specific geographic areas.

Now that you have been made aware about these programs, what do you think? See you on our next article!

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