How Well is AB 109 Working?

How San Diego County is handling the arrival of non-serious offenders

For Daniel Tieabout, 33, a life in and out of jail was what he knew.

“I was in and out of jail from the age of 13,” Tieabout said.

The same went for Andrew Herron, 37.

“My record shows possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property,” Herron explained.

But they hope incarceration is something they’ll never have to experience again.

“I've been out of jail for three months, and it hasn't been since 2006 that I was out on the streets that long,” Herron said.

The two are what Assembly Bill 109 was designed for. It’s an initiative to reduce state prison populations by sentencing new, non-serious, non-violent or non-sexual offenders to county jail instead of state prison.

Herron and Tieabout say when they went through the county's Community Transition Center, their lives started to change.

“CTC was a good stop for me because of the simple fact I didn't have to worry about me saying, 'ok, I'm going to do this on the street, but not do it,'” Tieabout said.

The CTC is where they have to go after being released from jail. Many are picked up by the county and brought there, where they go through assessments, including drug and mental health screenings.

"It's to gather information for us, so we can put together the best kind of plan to again help them successfully re-enter the community,” said San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins.

The former inmates are provided with short-term transitional housing and the opportunity to take advantage of the Lighthouse Substance Abuse program.

"Our job is not just to trail them, nail them, jail them. Our job is to work with them in a supportive way, getting them into services so they can help make changes in their lives,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says since the program started, they’ve seen success. Nearly 70 percent of the inmates they worked with have not been convicted of another crime. About 100 people go through the CTC each month.

Herron considers himself one of those success stories.

"To be honest with you, if it wasn't for this place right now, not only would I not be here talking to you, I would probably be in a jail cell. I might be even dead,” he said.

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