Attorney General Kamala Harris Issues Smart on Crime Award to the California Central District’s CASA Program

On July 8, 2015, the Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-entry presented a Smart on Crime Award to the California Central District’s Conviction and Sentencing Alternatives (CASA) program. The award recognizes individuals who are leading the way in innovative criminal justice programs. The award recipients demonstrate leadership in the development of successful recidivism reduction programs and are making substantial contributions to re-entry efforts in California.

The CASA program, including members of its team with the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California, were recognized for their effort empowering ex-offenders by helping them rebuild their lives and re-enter their communities with a toolbox of new skills and opportunities.

The official announcement is quoted below.

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The Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-entry presents the inaugural Smart on Crime Awards, recognizing individuals who are leading the way in innovative criminal justice programs. These award recipients have demonstrated leadership in the development of successful recidivism reduction programs and are making substantial contributions to re-entry efforts in California.

The awardees’ work is preparing offenders to thrive when they return to their communities through efforts like education, job training and recovery. These individuals champion programs that increase community safety and promote a greater understanding of justice and fairness in the criminal justice system. This work holds offenders accountable yet connects them with the opportunities and tools they need to rebuild their lives.
“These organizations are doing innovative work to educate, employ and keep ex-offenders on track, which will reduce recidivism rates and increase public safety in California,” said Attorney General Harris. “These awardees are keeping ex-offenders accountable by empowering them to rebuild their lives and re-enter their communities with a toolbox of new skills and opportunities. We want to recognize their great work, sharing their efforts as best practices for others to follow.”

The Conviction and Sentence Alternatives (CASA) Program, offers individuals a pathway out of the criminal justice system. The first alternative sentencing program in the Central District of California, CASA offers treatment, sanction alternatives and incentives to select federal defendants. Participants must plead guilty and successfully complete programs designed to address the underlying causes of their criminal conduct, such as substance abuse treatment or employment/education services. The felony will then either be dismissed or a probationary sentence will be imposed instead of prison. CASA just finished its 24-month pilot phase and has been adopted as a permanent program. Since it was launched, 60 percent of participants have graduated and 33 percent remain in the program. Participation is entirely voluntary and must be approved by the judge assigned to the defendant’s criminal case.