I joined the Town Hall meeting eager to learn about San Diego’s probation program, of which I knew nothing. I expected to hear something similar to what I know about probation programs from TV shows and movies – listening to resistant, jaded officers negatively discussing difficulties of monitoring and managing criminals. But that is not what I heard at all.
As each probation staff member excellently presented their piece, I felt more and more optimistic and heartened by the progressive nature of the program. Using the transformational Georgetown model of probation reform as a guide, San Diego has and is gradually reforming the probation system from punitive to rehabilitative.
Over the last several years, Chief Probation Officer Adolfo Gonzalez and his staff have implemented many positive changes from simple – changes in language, “clients” instead of “convicts” or “criminals,” broadening the definition of approved visitors to allow caring adults beyond just parents – to complex – redesigning and rebuilding the youth facility to resemble a more positive, uplifting campus-like environment.
It was evident throughout the presentation that the staff are sincerely invested in their Mission Statement: Through Probation team members and client-centered partnerships, we will stand in our values and become innovative through evidence-based and best practices in continuum of care, supervision, accountability, and a restorative practice philosophy within a culture of caring in promoting public safety.