A year-old rehabilitation program for ex-convicts could get its first funding from Sacramento County, which has been criticized for not spending enough on such efforts.
The Board of Supervisors will be asked today to approve a contract of as much as $180,000 for a year of service from Ascend, a program started by two criminal defense attorneys, Christine Galves and Toni Carbone.
In 2010, the county's Criminal Justice Cabinet approved Ascend to work with offenders from Superior Court. The program has worked so far with a handful of participants at a time, with work coming largely from volunteers and out-of-pocket costs from Galves and Carbone.
The program provides cognitive behavioral therapy to try to change the way criminals think. It also requires regular drug testing and daily check-ins.
A group of supporters last year urged supervisors to find funding for Ascend. Supervisors told members of the county's Community Corrections Partnership they would like funding to go to community-based programs like Ascend.
The partnership is responsible for developing programs and custody options for offenders the county started receiving in 2011 under a state law.
The county has received some criticism for not spending enough on rehabilitation since the law went into effect.
If approved, Ascend would provide rehabilitation services for the Sheriff's Department, handling offenders who are released from jail and on electronic monitoring.
"There's no question they're enthusiastic," said Jamie Lewis, chief deputy at the department. "We're embracing that enthusiasm."
Lewis called the arrangement a pilot project, and noted that there is no minimum amount for the contract. The department would pay Ascend $1,200 a month per inmate.
It might not be a lot of money, but Carbone said she feels good about getting an endorsement from the Sheriff's Department.
"My excitement can't be overstated," she said.
The funding should allow Ascend to pay a program coordinator who has been working largely on a volunteer basis, she said.
Out of the 40 offenders who have been in the program, four have been convicted of new crimes, she said. Thirty-six people have graduated.
California State University, Sacramento, collects and analyzes data from the program. The Sheriff's Department plans to track those statistics and base future funding decisions on them, Lewis said.