In the correctional system, the staff can often play an overlooked, yet vitally important, role in the positive outcomes of offenders and inmates.
In Carson, California, Rep. Laura Richardson, a Democrat, is showing her constituents just how critical the needs are. Earlier this month, she announced that the Carson Public Safety Department was awarded a grant of just over $72,000 to pay for half of the salaries of two deputy probation officers.
The money is a part of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, one of the leading sources of federal justice funding. It is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Deputy probation officers are an important part of the support network necessary to keep recent offenders out of prison and focused on being productive members of society,” Richardson said in a written statement.
“Their role is particularly important because many ex-offenders do not have a network of family and friends that they can rely on for help,” she added.
As of 2006, over 70 percent of the prison population in California was non-white. African-Americans made up 29 percent of that figure. Black men, in particular [2005 figures], were much more likely to be imprisoned – at a rate of 5,125 per 100,000 people in the population. These figures are not mere talking points when overlapped with the racial and economic diversity of Rep. Richardson’s Congressional district.
Not only from a staffing, but from a financial standpoint, the grant makes perfect sense. It costs approximately $47,000 per year to house an inmate in California. The work of two probation officers who deal with several offenders each will hopefully keep more people from re-offending, which can lower inmate costs.
Rep. Richardson’s 37th Congressional district covers an area of Southern California that includes Long Beach, Compton, Watts and surrounding areas. She has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007, after initially entering the office via a special election.