FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --An agency tasked with spending millions of dollars in savings from a controversial voter-approved initiative came to Fresno to seek community input on how it should be spent.
The Board of State and Community Corrections is in charge of allocating a little more than $19 million dollars in state savings freed up from Proposition 47-the voter-approved initiative that changed the landscape of criminal justice in California by reducing certain crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
Monday night, the board called on community members and law enforcement members from Fresno and surrounding areas to give their input on how those available dollars should be spent. "We're only as good as the stakeholders that come tell us what they want," said BSCC Chair Linda Penner.
Penner says the $19 million will be given out through grants and go towards programs that keep people from going back to jail, which includes everything
from drug treatment to job training
While she opposes Prop 47, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims would like to see the savings from it reinvested inside jails. But not everyone is in favor of that. "We hope that they're not going to try to put that money into services within the jail, that money should go back into the community, go back to the taxpayers," said Debbie Reyes of the California Prison Moratorium Project.
Reyes is also concerned the money could go towards expanding existing jails, which she says won't help with recidivism. But Penner says that's not going to happen. "This is an entirely different pot of money that'll be rolled out for treatment, programming, housing, and reentry into the community to prevent recidivism," Penner said.
It's a lot of money and a complex conversation, but the board says it's community-driven, where anyone can apply to be on the committee that reads and rates the funding applications.
The board now heads south for a few more community meetings. By this summer, the board will have the funds, and by the following spring, they'll start awarding grants.