A 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling required California to resolve its overcrowded prison system. In response, Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed into law Assembly Bill 109, establishing a set of policies that are commonly referred to as Realignment. This legislation transferred responsibility for more than 60,000 low-risk inmates from the state to its 58 counties and required them to develop facilities, policies, and programs to serve this population. To help identify the most effective and cost-beneficial adult criminal justice programs, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative partnered with California counties to implement the Results First approach at the local government level.
Ventura County leaders have long championed the use of evidence to improve criminal justice outcomes through participation in national projects such as the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. To expand their efforts to identify effective programs for a growing offender population and coordinate services across the county, Ventura criminal justice leaders sought assistance from the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. In November 2016, the county Board of Supervisors formally engaged with Results First to implement a standardized approach to evidence-based policymaking within the criminal justice system.
Ventura County’s Results First efforts are endorsed by the county Community Corrections Partnership and led by the Probation Department and the chief probation officer. The deputy chief probation officer oversees the process and is responsible for the development of technical teams that include leaders and staff members from the Probation Department and the Superior Court. The offices of the public defender, district attorney, and sheriff as well as area police departments are also active participants on the technical teams.
Ventura County staff members have begun building the program inventory and customizing the cost-benefit analysis model and expect to complete these technical efforts in 2017. County policymakers plan to use the Results First approach to expand the use of evidence-based practices to better serve probation clients in order to reduce recidivism rates and achieve better outcomes from their program investments.