Pastor Johnny Welcomes Parolees Home, and Connects Them with Needed Services

Pastor Johnny LaPenias about to start a weekly meeting with parolees.

On a Tuesday morning, in a barren warehouse across the street from Superior Court, Pastor Johnny is leading a gathering of over 40 parolees in a meeting that is part resource fair, part spiritual revival.  The meeting, called Parole and Community Team, is mandated by parole, and is for every recently released parolee from the state prison system that is returning to Santa Clara County. Drawing little attention, it’s been happening for years with a new group of recently returned former inmates every week, both men and women, and may be the first time anyone has said two profoundly important words to them “welcome home.” Continue reading

California’s Goal to Reduce Prison Populations Hinges on Counties’ Plans

By Raj Jayadev

Santa Clara County Main Jail

Through a recent piece of legislation called AB109 that mandates a reduction in the prison inmate population, California counties are being given a rare, historic opportunity to re-imagine its public safety framework in a way that can dramatically strengthen our communities, unite our families, and rebuild the economy of our resource depleted state.

Or, we can just fill up our local jails with people who would have filled up our state prisons.

What path we take in the state’s fork in the road moment will be based on how counties envision, strategize, and act over the next two months, as counties need to submit their plan for what is being called “realignment” on October 1st, 2011. And as much as I hate to use a Silicon Valley catch phrase – Santa Clara County, as well as every California county, can shift the paradigm of our criminal justice system if we allow our more rationale thinking to prevail over the impulse to do more of the same in terms of incarceration. Continue reading