Alameda County district attorney announces justice restoration project

Nancy O'Malley.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley has announced that she is leading a partnership of county agencies, community groups and other resources to try to provide successful outcomes for young adults who are on felony probation or who've been charged with certain felonies.

O'Malley said the "Alameda County Justice Restoration Project" will focus on reducing and eliminating recidivism as well as on providing the resources and processes for individuals to build bright futures.

She said the project will focus on young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 and will be evaluated by WestEd Inc., an independent research and assessment organization.

O'Malley said the project enables Alameda County to create and implement a new model for addressing community safety by breaking the cycle of crime and incarceration with intensive services, including individualized coaching and intensive case management.

The project is now serving 29 young adults in its pilot phase and starting in January it will serve an additional 150 young people.

"This project provides a pathway for a better life," O'Malley said in a statement.

O'Malley said, "Under the leadership of the District Attorney's Office, we are changing the paradigm from simply supervision-based probation to building outcomes of success. We understand that recidivism is a problem that plagues communities throughout the county, the state, and the nation."

She said, "Repeatedly jailing low-level offenders without providing supportive services and opportunities for employment and education is not the answer. The criminal justice system and our citizens are best served when we embrace new ideas and approaches to addressing crime, punishment and rehabilitation."

O'Malley said the new program is a Pay For Success Project, with seed funding awarded by the Bureau of State and Community Corrections through a competitive grant program.

She said Pay For Success is a fiscal partnership between a government agency, in this case Alameda County, under the leadership of the District Attorney's Office, and private or foundation funders. The non-government funds are invested in a project with specific contractual milestones and outcomes.

O'Malley said a key partner is La Familia Counseling Services, a community-based organization that will support young adults returning to their neighborhoods in the county through its individualized coaching model.

She said clients will be paired for 18 month with coaches with similar life experiences who will provide engagement and mentorship. The coaches will coordinate with probation officers and other professionals to streamline access to an array of services that can be challenging for clients to navigate without support.

The District Attorney's Office has developed and spearheaded the program in collaboration with the Probation Department, the County Administrator's Office and the Sheriff's Office, among other county partners.

The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab has been working with the District Attorney's Office since 2015 to develop the project.

The project is funded by a mix of federal, state, county and philanthropic dollars.