A split Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a contract that outsources residential probation care for girls to a private operator.
A majority of Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday voiced support for a proposal to outsource the county’s residential probation program for teenage girls to a private operator. The shift ran into strong pushback, however, from Supervisors Shirlee Zane and Susan Gorin, who said plans for career training were not on par with the courses offered to troubled boys under county care.
Sonoma County is set to turn over its residential probation program for teenage girls to a private operator, the latest county service to be outsourced to the private sector in an effort to save money.
The diversion of state prisoners to county supervision has changed the culture in Sonoma County’s jail, making it more violent, while forcing the early release of petty criminals, Sheriff Steve Freitas said Wednesday.
Attacks on correctional deputies have increased 72 percent since the dramatic shift was instituted 12 months ago and fights between inmates are increasing, he said. However, he said he could not immediately provide specific data on the specific numbers of such incidents.
At the same time, the influx of more serious felons serving longer sentences has required the jail to release those convicted of lesser offenses on electronic home confinement, Freitas said.
Over nine months ending in September, the jail released 231 people eligible for detention alternatives who were serving time for such offenses as drunken driving, drug use and theft, Freitas said.
Sonoma County is set to shift its residential probation program for teenage girls to a private operator under a proposal endorsed Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors. The cost-saving move would close Sierra Youth Center, the county probation camp that has served troubled girls since 1979 in a corner of the juvenile justice campus off Highway 12 in the Valley of the Moon.
For more than three decades, a small program operating off Highway 12 in the Valley of the Moon has made a big bet on some of Sonoma County’s most troubled girls. It has used gardening projects, a Girl Scout troop, art workshops, job training and even yoga classes — at a cost of up to $1.6 million a year — to provide round-the-clock, court-ordered supervision to hundreds of teenage girls, many of them with multiple arrests for drug and gang activity, theft and other crimes.