YREKA, Calif. – Hundreds of inmates and offenders on probation have been growing crops, raising animals, and chopping wood for the community in Northern California, and law enforcement officials said it will benefit those offenders as much as it helps people in need.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and Community Corrections said its Day Reporting Center has been a big success since it opened two years ago, and now the program is expanding.
In 2011, California put limits on which criminals would be sent to state prison, under a process called realignment. So to avoid jails overcrowding on a local level, Siskiyou County began its Day Reporting Center, where inmates and people on probation can take part in work programs and other alternative sentencing. Newer programs include growing crops and raising chickens and rabbits to donate food to the local community center. Offenders are also chopping firewood for seniors or people who have trouble heating their homes.
The sheriff’s office said when inmates and people on probation take part, they have a vested interest in the community and are less likely to continue committing crimes.
“When you’ve offended, you start to isolate yourself and you don’t want to be a part of the community. You don’t think that you belong there,” said Allison Giannini, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office. “The fact is, you live here, you’re part of our community. So once you start giving back, you feel a sense of belonging and a sense of caring, and you want to do better in your community.”
The DRC also offers drug and alcohol treatment for those that take part. For those interested in learning more about the programs, Siskiyou County will hold an open house on July 30 in Yreka.