ICYMI: We are in the profession of supporting positive change’:
Sacramento County Probation works to uplift clients and keep them from falling back into the system
by ANNE STOKES in Sacramento News and Review
Julie Wherry would like to work herself out of a job. As assistant chief probation officer for Sacramento County, she wants more people to understand that the dedicated officers and staff she works with are there to support the men, women and juveniles they supervise. Contrary to popular belief, she says the department’s focus is on getting people back on their feet instead of looking for ways to punish them further.
Together with county agencies like Behavioral Health, Child, Family and Adult Services and multiple community-based organizations, Sacramento County Probation Department provides supervision and support for those on probation, oftentimes taking proactive measures to ensure people are able to access the help they need and not return back into the system. Support includes connections to:
Housing and transitional living services
Educational programs such as earning a GED/high school diploma or trade school
Help applying for benefits, including General Assistance, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, Social Security, veterans’ benefits and CalWORKS
Mental and behavioral health services such as residential programs, counseling, anger management, drug and alcohol treatment, art therapy, trauma-informed clinical services, individual and group support for adults, juveniles and their families
Health care services, including dental and vision
Tattoo removal services
Foster care and resource family support
Record sealing and expungements
The goal of having such a wide array of supportive services is to keep people out of jail, Wherry explains. Returning to jail can interrupt and affect employment, education and upend families, all of which can inadvertently force people back into the system.
To that end, Sacramento County Probation Department has invested in some innovative solutions to reduce recidivism rates, including:
The Jail Diversion Treatment & Resource Center works with clients before sentencing for misdemeanors offenses to connect them with support services in lieu of serving time.
Mobile Outreach units to bring probation to clients, particularly unhoused clients, and to overcome transportation issues and prevent failures to report.
The Vera Institute’s Ending Girls’ Incarceration Grant will not only help divert girls already in the system away from detention, but also seeks to provide supportive services to prevent others from ending up there in the first place. It’s a program that’s already found success in Santa Clara County.