County receives $6 million grant for new program to help stop offenders from recommitting crimes

RIVERSIDE – A $6 million grant will help Riverside County officials provide mental-health and substance-abuse treatment that may reduce the chances people will commit crimes again after they are released from jail.

The grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections funds a new program operated by Riverside University Health System-Behavioral Health. The services will be provided to eligible individuals who are seeking early release from prison under Proposition 47. The program is scheduled to begin July 1.

Voters approved Proposition 47 in 2014 to reduce prison overcrowding by diverting certain low-level offenders to substance-abuse treatment and rehabilitation programs. The new, evidence-based program will reach 180 participants across the county each year over the three years of the grant. The program will focus on those with misdemeanor offenses, people referred by the Veterans Court program and referrals from the county Probation Department.

Without recovery and rehabilitation programs, offenders often revert to familiar habits and activities that can put them at risk of reoffending. Those services can help improve coping skills, stress management techniques, workforce training and good decision-making.

Approximately $103 million in grants were announced, and RUHS-Behavioral Health received the maximum grant available. The department is one of 23 agencies chosen from among more than 58 applicants, and the amount is the largest for any recipient of these Proposition 47 grant funds in the Inland Empire.

An advisory committee of community-based organizations and partners in recovery treatment will provide a comprehensive network of care to bring the best available resources to promote their success, Steve Steinberg, director of Behavioral Health, said.

“The focus is to address trauma and other factors associated with reoffending and reincarceration,” he said. “We believe we can show people a future that is different from their past.”

The program will be directed by Deborah Johnson, deputy director of forensics at Behavioral Health, which will operate offices in Moreno Valley and the Coachella Valley. An overall treatment and recovery plan will use evidence-based practices and involve the coordinated treatment of mental-health, primary-health and substance-abuse disorders.

For more information, contact Thomas Peterson, senior public information specialist, at (951) 538-6791 or Tomjpeterson@rcmhd.org.

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