prison.jpgSan Francisco’s sheriff’s and adult probation departments announced today a new wing in one of the county jails that will focus specifically on inmates about to be released from custody.

The “reentry pod” will open on Thursday and target inmates released to the supervision of probation officials under the state’s realignment policy that went into effect in 2011.

That policy shifted the burden for low-level offenders from state prisons to county authorities.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and Chief Adult Probation Officer Wendy Still today unveiled the pod, located at County Jail 2 at 425 Seventh St. near Bryant Street.

The circular-shaped facility will house up to 56 inmates in custody for low-level, non-violent crimes and “sets a new template” for how jails can help people re-enter their communities after being in custody, Mirkarimi said.

The inmates housed for 60 days in the pod prior to their release can receive cognitive behavioral programs, substance abuse treatment, classes on parenting or for educational credit, among other individualized and group services.

The goal is to reduce the number of inmates who re-offend once out of custody and find themselves back in jail, Still said.

“We give those who are being released a chance at being successful, as opposed to being released with a sure plan for failure,” she said.

Upon release, the people in the program will continue to be offered resources by the probation department and partnering nonprofits.

The sheriff’s department is spending $44 more per day for each inmate in the program, but expects to make up that cost in less inmates who return to custody after release, Mirkarimi said.

The program will start with 11 inmates moving in on Thursday, with more expected in the coming months.

Mirkarimi said he hopes to expand the program in future years if it proves successful with the inmates.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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