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A Courtroom Unlike Any Other - Santa Clara County’s Parolee Reentry Court is a Case Study in Reducing Prison Recidivism, SOOO, 2011

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‘A Courtroom
Unlike Any Other’
Santa Clara County’s
Parolee Reentry Court is
a Case Study in Reducing
Prison Recidivism
A report prepared for the California Senate Rules
Committee
june 1, 2011

Prepared by Dorothy Korber

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

John Adkisson
John Hill
Dorothy Korber
Nancy Vogel
1496-S

‘A Courtroom
Unlike Any Other’
Santa Clara County’s
Parolee Reentry Court is
a Case Study in Reducing
Prison Recidivism

june 1, 2011
Prepared by Dorothy Korber

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

June 1, 2011

Introduction
The judge ran through his afternoon calendar at a sprinter’s pace. More
than 50 cases cycled through the court in three hours – all of them
parolees with a violation. Dirty drug tests. Missed appointments. New
crimes. Such lapses normally would have sent them straight back to
state prison. But today, instead of a prison cell, they are in Judge Stephen
Manley’s crowded, bustling San Jose courtroom.
This is Santa Clara County’s Parolee Reentry Court, where high-risk
offenders get a second chance at redemption. If it works, everybody wins:
the parolee rebuilds his life, his community is safer, and taxpayers save the
thousands of dollars it would cost to return him to prison. If it fails, he is
one more statistic in California’s dismal recidivism rate.
California has the worst record in the nation for re-incarcerating parolees,
with nearly 70 percent returning to prison within three years of release.
“California epitomizes revolving door justice in the United States,”
according to criminology professor Joan Petersilia. To address this problem,
in 2009 the Legislature passed Senate Bill x3 18, which created a pilot
program testing whether a drug-court model can reduce recidivism.
Santa Clara is one of six counties participating in the pilot.
The aim of these Parolee Reentry Courts is to stop the swinging prison
door. So far, it’s working.
Now Judge Manley wants to bring the program to every county in the
state as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to restructure public safety in
California. The governor aims to shift responsibility for parole violations to
local jurisdictions, with courts making parole revocation decisions. In fact,
the policy of turning parole violators over to judges is already in statute
under Assembly Bill 109, a budget bill Brown signed into law on April 4, 2011.
Manley says the mechanism to achieve Brown’s goal is the Parolee Reentry
Court. The judge suggests taking the collaborative drug courts that
operate in 56 California counties and turning them into parolee courts.
The state Board of Parole Hearings would be deeply downsized and
most of its $200 million budget diverted to these Reentry Courts. Other
millions saved by stopping the revolving door would be plowed back into
local treatment programs and job training.
The savings could be immense. In 2009, 27,000 parole violators were
returned to state prison and then re-paroled after serving three months or
less. Collectively those 27,000 re-incarcerated parolees cost taxpayers about
$1.69 million for each day they were back in prison.

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The court
As Manley’s court calendar for March 21 progressed, a parolee with a cane
took a seat at the defendants’ table. The judge looked up from a thick file
and said, “Robert, Robert, Robert: Are you working on honesty?
I understand you tried to put one past Miss Pastor, your parole agent.”
Robert hung his head and the judge continued: “We’ve got to stop these
negative drug tests. You need to be honest, to do something about the
problem. Here’s the key: Tell the truth. And stay away from people who use
cocaine. Are you clean now? We’ll find out, so tell me truthfully.”
“I’m clean.”
The judge led a round of applause and instructed the parolee to enter a
specific substance abuse treatment program, to be honest about his drug
tests, to tell his agent if he is “dirty” so the level of treatment could be
adjusted, to attend meetings regularly and to bring proof of attendance
when he returned to court April 18.
Others trooped through. Manley dealt with a forged light-rail ticket, a
new dui, a homeless parolee whose agent can’t find him because he
lives outdoors. A few were remanded to county jail for a “time out” or a
chance to dry out. At the end of the day, arrest warrants were issued for
the handful of parolees who failed to show up. But most were encouraged,
applauded and told to return to court in four weeks.
Some spoke candidly of their emotional problems.
“Roger, you’ve been feeling depressed?” Manley asked a middle-aged parolee.
“Yes, sir. And stressed.”
“You’ve had a relapse?”
“Hey, Judge – you’re well-informed! Yes, sir. Life became overwhelming.
Paying bills… I’m spread too thin.”
The judge, a grandfatherly figure with silver hair and a black eye patch,
gave him a pep talk. “Showing up for life can be overwhelming. You are
not in prison, where everybody runs your life for you. Maybe we can help
you through this.”
The judge’s philosophy is echoed in the words of poet W. E. Henley,
posted on the courtroom wall:

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June 1, 2011

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Earlier, at the start of the March 21 session, Manley addressed the newcomers to Parolee Reentry Court.
“This courtroom is unlike any other,” he said. “Every one of you knows the
reason you were sent here was an alternative to being sent back to prison.
This program is about your life – about you. It may take a long time, but
this is not about how quick you accomplish something. I want you to do
well. I don’t know if any one else does. What I want is one thing only –
for you to succeed… You have to do the work, but I can help. Believe in
yourself – keep fighting!”
Manley also spoke to the parolees about honesty. “People have been
lying to me for 25 or 30 years,” the judge said. “I have listened to every lie
imaginable. After all these years, it’s refreshing to hear the truth. People
who are honest with me, they get out of jail.”
Almost all the parolees in Reentry Court are drug abusers; three-fourths
are mentally ill, with diagnoses including schizophrenia and bipolar
disorder. At the start of the program, 85 percent of them were homeless.
Their post-prison lives are chaotic, and their struggle to stay off illegal
drugs is constant. Follow-through is not their strong suit. For that, they
find support in Judge Manley’s Department 64.

The judge

	
Judge
Stephen Manley

Manley is the leader of a team
of a dozen people – attorneys,
psychologists, medical doctors, parole
agents and probation officers – who
work together to help these parolees
stay off drugs and out of prison.
Santa Clara Superior Court is a
pioneer in such collaborative courts,
operating special sessions for veterans,
the mentally ill, and drug abusers.
Manley initiated the Parolee Reentry
Court here three years ago, giving his
team a running start when sb x3 18’s 	
pilot program started up in 2010.

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In its first three years, Santa Clara County’s Parolee Reentry Court boasts
a success rate of about 80 percent — with 20 percent reincarcerated by the
state. Under the state’s Board of Parole Hearings, 100 percent would have
been back in state prison.
After the day’s calendar was done, Manley took off his judicial robes and
sat in his chambers, talking about the Reentry Court and why he thinks it
could work across the state to reduce prison recidivism.
“Our 80 percent completion rate is a result of sticking with people over
time,” he said. “I talk about managing people rather than sentencing them.
I have a simple view: You need to motivate people to change. It’s not a
get-out-of-jail-free card with no accountability – they spend time in the
treatment programs, they do time in jail if they screw up.”
Eventually, he acknowledges, there will be failures: “With some of them,
you just can’t win – they are great manipulators and great fakers. But, if
you use this model, overall you will reduce recidivism and you will save
the taxpayers’ money. It really does work.”
Not every state parolee requires such intensive management, Manley said.
He figures that “roughly 20 percent of parolees will go back to prison no
matter what, 20 percent will do just fine anyway, 40 percent will make
gradual progress on their own.
“The remaining 20 percent — the high-risk, high-need group — are the
ones who can profit from this. This method works best with the hard core.
We are patient with them, we know there will be some relapses, but we tell
them that their showing up is more important to us than their screwing
up. We applaud their successes and we pay attention to them. For most of
them, it’s the first time anyone has paid attention to them.”

The team
Parolee Reentry Court is a spinoff of the drug court model, one of
the major successes of the collaborative court movement nationwide.
Collaborative courts emphasize a team approach to criminal justice
instead of the traditional adversarial system, which pits prosecutors against
defenders under the gavel of an impartial judge.
Cases flow through Manley’s court with such speed and success because
he has assembled a dedicated and creative team. Manley is quick to
give them credit; the team credits the man at the helm.

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The team members took a few moments from their hectic schedules to
talk about their experiences.

Parole agents Eduardo Rodriguez and Mary Pastor
Parole: Parole agent Mary Pastor, who works for the state corrections
department, has been assigned to Manley’s Reentry Court since April 2008.
She remembers being puzzled by her first days in the collaborative setting.
“I thought, ‘What in the world? What does this judge want from me?’” said
the seasoned parole agent. “What is it with the clapping and singing happy
birthday to parolees? But it quickly became clear that the approach works.
“For the parolees, the fact that this is a judge is important. Parolees who
would cuss at us parole agents – who would scream at us – react differently
when it’s a judge they’re talking to. They listen to him – and it means a lot
to them that he listens to them. It helps the guys to know that they’re not
alone – but there are consequences if they screw up.
“These are people with a case file three inches thick. We have tried
everything with them. Say it’s a meth user – one dirty drug test, and
normally we’d lock them back up. But it doesn’t make sense to lock
everyone up.”
Pastor said she specifically asked other parole agents to give her their
hardest cases – those parolees with the three-inch-thick files. Why would
she tackle this challenge?

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“Well,” she said, “I guess it’s the cheesy sentiment – if I can help one
person, that means something to me. Here, I can help.”
Another parole agent, Eduardo Rodriguez, handles the parolee caseload
for Manley’s mental health court and also attends Parolee Reentry Court.
Rodriguez said he and Pastor can provide insight into parolees’ lives that
no one else has. “We know these people – we’ve been to their houses at 6
a.m.,” Rodriguez said. “We’re on the front lines, and we see the challenges
they face. We have a good rapport with them, and we can give the judge
the information he needs to make decisions about them.”
Probation: Probation officers are the county counterpart to state parole
agents. Santa Clara County has a special unit of eight probation officers
whose clients are diagnosed as mentally ill. These probation officers ask to
have their clients assigned to Manley’s Department 64, said Sallie Jensen,
a member of the mental health unit.
“Our clients are people who have been tossed out of society,” Jensen said.
“Some have severe schizophrenia, a huge number are bipolar, many are
paranoid. They use illegal drugs to help them cope with the symptoms of
their mental illness. Judge Manley gets that. His knowledge is phenomenal.
“It takes awhile for these clients to trust us and to trust the judge. I tell
them: ‘This court is a unique opportunity. This is another chance for you
– maybe your last chance.’ One thing I learned from Judge Manley is not
to give up hope. Sometimes, when you think there is no hope for someone,
amazing things can happen and they turn their life around.”
Public defender: Santa Clara
County public defender Jennifer
Hultgren has worked in different
capacities with Judge Manley’s
collaborative courts for the past
five years. In Reentry Court, she
represents state parolees who are
also on county probation or who
are charged with a new crime. She
assures that her clients’ rights are
protected and helps them understand
the Reentry Court process.
“Here, you take the advocacy hat off
a little bit,” she said. “Judge Manley
makes it less combative. It’s much more
	
Public
Defender Jennifer Hultgren a treatment-oriented atmosphere.

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This style isn’t for all the attorneys in my office, but if I could get every
client in this courtroom, I would.”
The parolee clients are often tripped up by simple activities – navigating
the city, signing up for services, remembering appointments.
“This is a population by and large that doesn’t follow through,” she said.
“It’s so, so hard for them to handle daily life. But they learn that they can
come here and it’s easy to check in – to get help – to make progress. If we
can make these people be more productive, it benefits all of us. There’s
nothing more tragic than writing people off.”
Hultgren had generous praise for the judge – and also for parole agents
Pastor and Rodriguez. “Those two parole agents are amazing,” the public
defender said. “You’ve got to buy into this collaborative system and it
was hard for them at the beginning. It’s probably still hard for them
among their peers, to seem soft. But having the parole agent right in the
courtroom is absolutely indispensable.”
Prosecutor: A deputy district attorney, George Chadwick, is also on the
Reentry Court team. Like Hultgren, he deals with parolees who are on
county probation or face new charges. But, as a prosecutor, he views the
process from another angle: consequences. One of his roles is to protect
the rights of any victims – and the community at large – by seeing that
parolees are held accountable for their behavior.
“Consequences are important – consequences really matter,” he said.
“If someone fails this program, they get slammed pretty hard. But there
isn’t much of a consequence for using illegal drugs, and that does concern
me. One guy Judge Manley heard on yesterday’s reentry calendar would
have been sentenced to 12 months in prison in another court.
“This is the final stop before prison, and these are tough cases. When
someone’s sent here, the point is nothing else is working. These are people
who need a lot of help, and Judge Manley’s going to cut them some slack.
Kicking them out of Parolee Reentry Court would be an admission of utter
failure. That’s a hard step for the court to take. So – I guess we’ll see.
This is a work in progress.”
Psychologists: Susan Sidel and Carol Matzas are therapists with the
Reentry Court’s Mental Health Assessment Team. In addition to screening
clients for mental illness, they also coordinate their psychiatric treatment,
medications, housing, drug treatment, education, job training and benefits.
Sidel has worked alongside Judge Manley for eleven years, Matzas

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for three. They both said the
collaborative approach works.
“The judge is this good-guy figure,
this grandfather figure that the clients
listen to,” Sidel said. “The judge says
to them: ‘If you need help, come here.
We’ll help you.’ The clients see that
in this court, the people in the system
who are usually against you – the
judge, the parole agent – are for you.
“They get positive reinforcement for
everything – it’s positive, positive,
positive. For these folks, this is
something they’ve never had before.
Psychologist Carol Matzas	
	
Until they learn to believe in
themselves, Judge Manley will believe in them.”
Matzas, who worked in a clinic before coming to the courthouse, said
she is impressed by the array of services available here – from prescription
medicine to advice on filing for Social Security. “I see people at this court
getting more support than a clinic could ever provide,” she said. “You get
a whole umbrella of services here.”
Sometimes, though, the program doesn’t work – some parolees just don’t
respond. Those are the 20 percent that Manley and his team can’t reach.
“The hardest part for me, is that I hate to see anybody go to prison,” Matzas
said. “But, when we’ve tried everything, that’s the reality. We have to
consider the safety of the community.”
Sidel agreed: “Nobody’s going to put the public in peril.”

From a parolee’s perspective
Parolee Eric Washington’s initial impression of Stephen Manley was not
a good one. “The first time I saw Judge Manley,” he said, “just one word
came to mind. Clown.” The self-described street thug didn’t realize that
he’d finally met his match.
Washington’s court file was even thicker than most, with 52 convictions,
half of them felonies. “And that was just the convictions,” he said. “It doesn’t
count all the charges I got out of.” He was tough, fearless and violent —
his criminal record includes nine assaults on police officers. He said he

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agreed to participate in Manley’s drug court for one simple reason: to get
back on the street so he could get high.
In an interview recently, Washington recounted the history that brought
him to Manley’s Department 64.
“I was a Marine Corps vet, divorced, estranged from my kids, in and out of
state prison for two decades, a street thug. I identified with my violent side.
I was a ‘regulator’ – an enforcer for drug dealers. All of my criminal record
revolved around drugs and drug use. Cocaine first, then I got into meth.
It became my drug of choice.
“The only thing that bothered me about going to jail or prison was that
I wouldn’t be able to be high. Even my mom gave up hope of me ever
getting my life on track. Her best hope was for me to stay locked up in
prison – at least I’d be alive.”
Twice, he managed to evade a third-strike conviction, saved by his eightyear military record. Finally, though, it looked like he’d reached the end.
For the third time, he faced his third strike and a life sentence.
“The bottom line was, they came to me one day and said, ‘We’ll give you
one last chance. You’ll go to Judge Manley’s drug court.’ Frankly, I just saw
it as another chance at the street. It hadn’t hit home to me how dire my
situation was.”
The scene in the collaborative court befuddled him.
“I’d never been in an environment where people wanted to help me. It was
an alien environment. The judge was talking to everybody – and me too.
He was looking at me – looking up, talking to everybody, animated, then
looking at me again. No judge had ever looked at me before – just at the
lawyers and my paperwork, never at me.
“I think it was the third time I went to Judge Manley’s court, that I realized
that he was dealing with me as an individual. It was the first time I felt that
anyone above public defender was going to do anything for me.”
Far from a clown, he began to appreciate Manley as a savvy and practical
mentor.
“With my years in the system,” Washington said, “I couldn’t help but see
how naïve a lot of the judges, prosecutors and public defenders are. They
are people with lives and families and bank accounts. I was this drug user
on the streets whose only possession was a backpack. My parole agent,

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Mary Pastor, has empathy – she likes me a lot – but even she is basically
baffled by me.
“But I think Manley gets it – he doesn’t look at the why. There is no sane
‘why’ about this drug lifestyle. He lays out the baby steps: ‘Do this one
simple thing. Do this and you can be free again.’ He would lay out what
was expected – he’d give you a few chances. He got me to realize – hey,
I can have a job. I can have a bank account. One thing I also started to
understand was that you can’t bullshit him.”
Washington hit a turning point with the death of his 17-year-old son, who
was involved in drugs and street gangs himself. With Manley’s guidance —
now in the judge’s collaborative court for veterans — Washington entered
a residential drug treatment program.
“I stayed 52 days. Then I spent three months in another program. I did
all my out-patient programs. I stayed clean. I found a place to live with a
friend. I started getting work, then more work, then more.” Today, at age 51,
the former street thug is working three different jobs.
In Washington’s long history in the criminal justice system, he says the
collaborative spirit in Manley’s court was unique.
“In his courtroom, there wasn’t a battle of the lawyers. It wasn’t combative
or threatening. Everybody was on the same team. Mental health people
were readily available. Everyone there saw the big picture. Everybody there
was trying to get me free. I can’t say it was any one thing that made the
difference, but it was everything. I’m a free man now – I sometimes can’t
believe it. I never saw myself getting out of the system.”

The proposal
When Governor Brown revealed his 2011-12 budget in January, he included
what he characterized as “a vast and historic” plan to restructure public
safety in California. A major element of this plan is the realignment of
parole from state control to the counties. As part of this realignment,
the governor aims to shift the responsibility for parole violations to local
jurisdictions, with judges making all parole revocation decisions.
The policy of turning parole violators over to the courts is already in statute
under ab 109, a budget bill Brown signed into law on April 4, 2011.
Judge Manley believes the Parolee Reentry Court model is one way to
achieve this. He notes that Reentry Courts exist on a pilot basis in six

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California counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco,
San Joaquin, and Santa Clara. The next step, he suggests, is to expand the
model statewide. He proposes taking the collaborative drug courts that are
already running in 56 California counties and turning them into Parolee
Reentry Courts. The state Board of Parole Hearings would be greatly downsized, and most of its $200 million budget turned over to the local level.
“This model reduces recidivism and it saves money,” Manley said. “Tell
the judges: The drug court model works. Give them a little money to
incentivize them – some of that money the state saves by not sending
everyone back to prison. Then measure the outcomes. If it doesn’t measure
up, the state can take it back. We judges are already the gatekeepers and
the safety net. You can blame corrections or parole for our overcrowded
prisons – but you cannot get to prison without a judge.”
The desired outcome would be a reduction in the number of parole
violators sent back to prison each year. In 2009, 27,000 parole violators
were returned to custody and then re-paroled after serving three months or
less in state prison. Based on a daily cost per inmate of $62.48, collectively
those 27,000 re-incarcerated parolees cost taxpayers about $1.69 million for
each day they were back in prison.
The Reentry Court model was also endorsed in an April 2011 report by
a task force of the Judicial Council of California. The report calls for
creating specialized calendars for parolees and probationers in every
jurisdiction in the state. “Reentry Courts show promise as a strategy to
maintain parolees in the community and avoid return to prison or jail,”
according to the report.
But can Judge Manley’s signature style and good results be translated
to county courthouses across California? Asked this question, his team
members considered their answers carefully.
“One thing to keep in mind is that this is probably the best treatment court
in the country,” responded George Chadwick, the deputy da. “We have
tremendous resources. We’re spoiled by it here in Santa Clara County.
We have psychologists sitting in the courtroom, doctors in the building,
really good defense attorneys, mental-health probation officers and a judge
who is on top of everything. In a county without those resources and with
an unsophisticated judge, how would it work?
“One thing that might help the smaller counties would be to concentrate
on lower-level offenders. We see some of the most dangerous probationers
in our county here in this court. In many other counties, you’d need to
be more selective about the parolees. You wouldn’t want the worst of the

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worst. I think the best screening would be to let Parole decide who could
participate. They are not going to send a monster to a county without any
resources.”
Parole agent Edward Rodriguez agrees. “For Reentry Court to be
successful, we need to send the right people here – people who are likely
to benefit from it. And there is a certain population we need to screen out.
The chronic absconders and the hardest-core criminals can’t come here.”
Mary Pastor, his parole agent colleague, thinks Parolee Reentry Courts can
be replicated across the state – and should be. “It would be a good model
statewide, and this court can show the way. It’s totally doable elsewhere.
If this is what we need to do to reduce recidivism, then let’s do it.”
Several team members talked about the importance of the judge in any
collaborative court.
“Certain judges will never embrace this,” said public defender Jennifer
Hultgren. “But I think, in every county, there will be judges who are right
for it. And that’s a good thing on a number of fronts. The revolving door is
so expensive – it’s just throwing money away.”
“Judge Manley is an amazing force,” said psychologist Susan Sidel. “When
he sees something is needed, he says, ‘Let’s do it.’ And it’s done. But I
think this court could be replicated in other places if they came and
watched how he handles things here. Remember that judges are lawyers
and politicians. For depleted counties, maybe a savvy judge could gain
buy-in from mental health and law enforcement by saying: ‘Let’s stay afloat
together.’ In the end, everybody benefits and money is saved.”
Psychologist Carol Matzas said other counties should be encouraged to
visit Santa Clara County, observe the process, and ask lots questions of
everyone on the Reentry Court team.
“There are probably plenty of judges and district attorneys in California
who care about this population,” Matzas said. “Judge Manley is unique, it’s
true — but basically, if you get a judge with a heart, that’s what’s needed.”
The word heart was also used by former parolee Eric Washington when
asked how Manley’s courtroom could be recreated in other jurisdictions.
“Truthfully, it’s hard to visualize the reentry program without Judge
Manley,” Washington said. “I can’t say there aren’t more Judge Manleys
out there, but my whole time in the system, I never saw another one.
You don’t have to duplicate him – but you do need to have a judge with
a sincere heart.”

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Views from other counties
“Judge Manley is the rock star of this stuff,” said Judge Richard Vlavianos
in his testimony before the Little Hoover Commission on March 24.
“We all wish we could grow up to be Steve Manley someday.”
Vlavianos, a Superior Court judge in San Joaquin County, was responding
to a commissioner who had just quoted Manley on the high relapse rate
among drug abusers. The commission’s hearing focused on reform of the
parole system, and Vlavianos was there to talk about his own Reentry Court.
San Joaquin County’s Parolee Reentry Court, one of the six pilots set up
under sb x3 18, has been running since October. Vlavianos supports
Manley’s proposal to set up collaborative courts for parolees statewide – if
the courts are given sufficient money to do it. Vlavianos recommends that
the Legislature create a collaborative Community Corrections Court in
each county with exclusive jurisdiction over parole and probation violations.
In an interview, Vlavianos talked about
how his experiences in the Stockton
courthouse compare with Manley’s
“dream team” setup in San Jose.
“We don’t have psychologists or
psychiatrists who work for the court,
but we do get the people who run
the treatment programs there in the
courtroom,” the judge said. “We
have two parole agents and a parole
supervisor. The District Attorney
chooses not to participate in my
county – neither does the public
defender’s office. So, what I’ve done is
cut a deal with our local law school –
Judge Richard Vlavianos	
	
their students do the public defender
duties, under the supervision of an attorney. I want to make sure I have
someone there for the defendant – the parolee.”
Whatever the composition of the team, Vlavianos said one component is
key: The right judge.
“You need a personality type who can convey to the client that he or she
sincerely cares about the client’s success,” he said. “There’s something
about a judge that is completely different from the other authority figures
in a parolee’s life. The judge has that perceived parental role, in terms of

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drawing lines of permissible conduct, or in patting people on the back.”
He concedes that not every county will necessarily have a judge who is
willing – or able — to fill that role.
“A small county with only a couple of judges may not have someone
who fits the bill,” he said. “But a way around that is to give counties the
flexibility to use a judicial officer – a referee—instead of a Superior Court
judge. As long as counties have the statutory authority to do this, they can
staff it with better-personality types and lower-cost types.”
In San Joaquin County, according to Vlavianos, Parolee Reentry Court is
working. He figures it’s saved the taxpayers millions of dollars already.
“I have 135 parolees in my Reentry Court – for that caseload I spend one
afternoon a week,” he said. “Seven months into it, not one has gone back
to prison on a parole revocation. Three have been reincarcerated on new
offences. So – I’m at a 3 percent recidivism rate. Think how much I could
accomplish if I did this full-time!”
He said all six pilot courts are experiencing similar results.
“Anyone who participates in this process loves it,” Vlavianos said. “It’s
contagious. Our parolees are telling other parolees on the run to turn
themselves in. You can see the change in the defendants, once you
establish trust with them. The light just goes on.”
Not everyone, however, is a convert.
Edward Busuttil is the Assistant District Attorney for San Joaquin County.
Asked why his office chose to “opt out” of the Reentry Court pilot, he gave
two reasons: Not enough money. Not enough consequences.
“This pilot program came during a kind of a perfect storm in San Joaquin
County,” Busuttil said. “We’re laying off attorneys — the last thing we
need is another calendar or courtroom to staff. It’s bad timing – maybe if
this was 2004 we might have been a little more open to it. Even if we had
the staff, though, our overall philosophy is that we don’t want the Reentry
Court to become a plea-negotiation chip. Our position is this: You violate
parole, then you do your time in state prison, and not in one of these
‘coddle’ courts.”
Asked what it would take to get prosecutors to buy into the Reentry Court
process, Busuttil said it would take dollars: “Money would be necessary –
we wouldn’t mind some trickle-down money. If the state wants to buy us a
person to sit in there and make objections, okay.”

14

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

June 1, 2011

Bonnie Dumanis was talking about this kind of mindset when she told
the Little Hoover Commission: “das are a feisty group.” She speaks from
experience; Dumanis is the district attorney of San Diego County. She
testified along with Judge Vlavianos at the commission’s March 24 hearing.
Dumanis described San Diego
County’s successful offender reentry
program, including its own Parolee
Reentry Court. She said that since
the pilot Reentry Court began on
Jan. 10, 2011, it had already fielded 40
participants.
“Based on the stayed prison sentences
of the participants deferred from
prison and into the Reentry Court
Program, the (state) Department of
Corrections has avoided over 100
years of prison time for these 40
participants,” according to her written
San Diego County District	testimony.
Attorney Bonnie Dumanis	
	
“I am passionate about this,” the
district attorney told the commissioners. Responding to their questions,
Dumanis said she is in favor of realigning parole supervision to the counties.
“I support the idea that we locals can do it better, if we have the money,”
she said. Asked what else the counties needed, she replied: “The answer is,
only money. We have all the tools to do the job. What we need is money to
get our probation officers up to speed and to get the programs up to speed.”
She said she’d put the money into mental health and substance abuse
programs and into vocational training – as well as hiring additional
prosecutors and public defenders for the increased caseload.
“Remember,” she said, “one way or another, this is a population that comes
back to us anyway. This is a group that recidivates. For law enforcement,
we see these people every day. We get them the way they are, and we know
they need help. The biggest mental-health provider in San Diego County
is the jail. I believe that the more participants you have in the reentry
program, the more efficient and cost effective it will be.”

15

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

June 1, 2011

California Counties with
Collaborative Justice Courts

X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X

X
X

X
X
X
X

X

X
X
X
X
X

X

X

X

YOUTH/PEER

X

VETERANS

TRUANCY

HOMELESS/
STAND-DOWN
MENTAL HEALTH ADULT
MENTAL HEALTH JUVENILE

X

X

X

X

X
X
X
X
X

X

X
X

X
X

X

X

X
X

X

X

X

X

X
X

X

X

X

X

X
X
X

X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X

X

X
X

ELDER

DUI

X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

DRUG - DEPENDENCY

DRUG - JUVENILE
DELINQUENCY

X

REENTRY

Alameda
Alpine
Amador
Butte
Calaveras
Colusa
Contra Costa
Del Norte
El Dorado
Fresno
Glenn
Humboldt
Imperial
Inyo
Kern
Kings
Lake
Lassen
Los Angeles
Madera
Marin
Mariposa
Mendocino
Merced
Modoc
Mono
Monterey
Napa

DRUG - ADULT

Superior Court of
California, County of

COMMUNITY

Appendix H: California Counties With Collaborative Justice Courts

X

X

X

X

X

X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

Source: Administrative Office of the Courts. April 2011.

16

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

June 1, 2011

X

X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X

X

X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

TRUANCY

X

YOUTH/PEER

X
X
X

VETERANS

X

REENTRY

X

X
X

X
X

HOMELESS/
STAND-DOWN
MENTAL HEALTH ADULT
MENTAL HEALTH JUVENILE

X
X
X

ELDER

X
X
X

DUI

DRUG - DEPENDENCY

X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

DRUG - JUVENILE
DELINQUENCY

Nevada
Orange
Placer
Plumas
Riverside
Sacramento
San Benito
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Francisco
San Joaquin
San Luis Obispo
San Mateo
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara
Santa Cruz
Shasta
Sierra
Siskiyou
Solano
Sonoma
Stanislaus
Sutter
Tehama
Trinity
Tulare
Tuolumne
Ventura
Yolo
Yuba

DRUG - ADULT

Superior Court of
California, County of

COMMUNITY

California Counties with
Collaborative Justice Courts (continued)

X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X

X

X

X

X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X

X
X

X

X

X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X

X
X
X

17

California Senate Office of
Oversight and Outcomes

June 1, 2011

Judge Manley confers with his top aide, Actricia Barrieau

Acknowledgements
Special thanks to Judge Stephen Manley, who provided unfettered
access to his courtroom, and to Actricia Barrieau, his deft and thoughtful
assistant, who organized our visits and answered my many inquiries.
Also thanks to Senate Photographer Lorie Shelley for her time and talent
in shooting the pictures of Judge Manley and his team for this report.
— Dorothy Korber, Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes

18

Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes
1020 N Street, Suite 560
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone (916) 651-1518
Facsimile (916) 324-5927
sooo.senate.ca.gov
Special Counsel John Adkisson • john.adkisson@sen.ca.gov
Office Manager Cathy Cruz • cathy.cruz@sen.ca.gov
Principal Consultant John Hill • john.hill@sen.ca.gov
Principal Consultant Dorothy Korber • dorothy.korber@sen.ca.gov
Principal Consultant Nancy Vogel • nancy.vogel@sen.ca.gov

1496-S
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