Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

The road to rehabilitation leads to Cooper Avenue site

An adult reporting center for Del Norte County prison parolees has opened its doors in Crescent City.

It's a hub for newly released parolees who have been redirected to county probation under California's Realignment plan to have group meetings, learn life skills and reintegrate back in to society.

"We want to keep them busy," said Linda Sanford, assistant chief probation officer.

The townhouse-style center has four bedrooms with enough bunks for 14 people, a kitchen, large gathering table, television, couches and a billiards table. Sanford calls it a more welcoming meeting place for behavioral-based rehabilitative group sessions than at the Probation Department where there other people are being taken into custody or taking drug tests, Sanford said.

"These people already have trust issues," said Sanford. "They're not going to trust you with all of that going on."

In one session, Sanford had participants share what they would like to learn while completing their parole: computer literacy, job help, cooking, learning a new language and smoking cessation were among those listed.

"These are all pro-social," said Sanford. "Nobody wants to know how to make tattoos."

The key to integrating people who were formerly incarcerated back into the community is to redirect them from their anti-social behavior, much of which was developed at a young age, Sanford said.

"It's really not a rehabilitation," said Sanford. "It's a habilitation."

In addition to transforming an individual through behavior-based rehabilitation, the center is focused on promoting community safety as well as providing a safe environment for the meetings, Sanford said.

The parolees are searched upon entry and will be reprimanded if they attend while intoxicated, Sanford said.

Being a new program, there are still wrinkles to be ironed out, such as how to approach having select parolees live at the center, Sanford said. The main issue is supervision during the evening, she added.

"We're crossing the river by feeling the rocks," said Sanford.

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