Tuesday, April 28, 2009

State Senate Panel Approval: Progress in Cate's Confirmation

A State Senate Panel has voted to confirm Cate as CDCR secretary, but the conversation included some difficult questions, as reported in the Sac Bee and in the Daily Roundup from Capitol Weekly.

The vote came after Cate complied with a request to submit a "benchmarks" report to members setting rehabilitation and education goals.

Steinberg called Cate "the right person for the job" but said the secretary would need "a lot of help."

. . .

Steinberg asked why, out of a population of 155,000 in traditional state prisons, Cate's goal is to have only 15,837 prisoners in academic classes by June 2010.

"It does beg the question: What about the rest of the inmates?" Steinberg said.

. . .

Steinberg also asked about Cate's goal to have 300 mentally ill parolees receiving comprehensive housing and mental health services by June 2010.

Right now, about 22,000 parolees receive limited services at clinics, but no parolees are in a comprehensive program.

Cate, whose resume includes extensive prosecutorial experience, spoke at our conference last month about the difficulties and expenses involved in making programs available to prisoners. He now has his hands full implementing his plan for making $400,000,000 budget cuts.


Prison Clinician said...

The response by Cates to the query about providing comprehensive services to mentally ill prisoners is that they are "expensive."

I am not quite familiar with how the parole outpatient clinics are modeled/structured, but my understanding (based on what inmates have said ) is that this is a clinic based service - where parolees are expected to show up weekly. This is a very outdated way of providing mental health services to this population - and it obviously does not work.

Community mental health, based on the rehab model (or currently wellness and recovery) - expect the clinician to spend a considerable amount of their time in the field - doing outreach, and providing rehab services in the community (including linkages to services ) If my understanding is correct, the parole agent might spend time in the field, but not necessarily the clinician.

If the POCs are restructured/remodeled along the lines of community mental health agencies - CDCR may not need to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions creating brand new programs. The existing POCs could be reformed to at least begin to provide necessary comprehensive services. Even if this is done around housing situations that are far less than ideal (see Citywide Case Management's Forensic Program in San Francisco, as an example of a successful comprehensive program for parolees - although they have a fairly narrow range of parolees that they are willing to accept in their program.)

Furthermore, not all of the 22,000 parolees are going to need comprehensive services - this assessment can be done on an ongoing basis.

Hadar Aviram said...

Yes, some parole/probation agents here in the city do the community outreach that you suggest, and it's a beautiful thing to see. They ride their bikes in the Tenderloin, greeting familiar faces and asking them how they are doing.

I would like to learn more about how this is done in mental health care.