A San Francisco program started by District Attorney Kamala Harris is now an official example for California counties to emulate.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed AB 750, the Back on Track Reentry Act . The bill, authored by Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass and sponsored by Harris, encourages counties to use the San Francisco model.
The program, created by Harris four years ago, is meant to reduce recidivism among nonviolent drug offenders by enrolling them in a job-training or educational program.
So far, fewer than 10 percent of Back on Track graduates have re-offended compared to a 54 percent statewide average recidivism rate for the same population of offenders, according to the district attorney’s office. Back on Track also costs about $5,000 annually per participant, compared to $35,000 to $50,000 for jail or prison.
Of course, Back on Track hasn’t gone entirely without controversy. Harris faced tough questions after an illegal immigrant, Alexander Izaguirre, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and assault in July 2008 while still enrolled in the program.