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San Benito County Literacy Program Aims to Reduce Recidivism
2012 California State Association of Counties Challenge Award Winner

Case Story

San Benito County’s literacy program, “Booked in a Different Way,” a winner of the 2012 California State Association of Counties Challenge Award, attempts to reduce recidivism by teaching probationers how to read and by fostering a love for reading and learning among their children.

On average, there are more than 1,200 individuals on probation in San Benito County at any one time. Many of these clients have a deficiency in education and that is passed along to their children. This issue greatly affects the recidivism rate among probationers. The “Booked in a Different Way” literacy program is designed to lower the recidivism rate among probationers as well as fostering a love of reading and learning among their children.

The program is a collaborative effort between the courts, probation department and county library. Its goal is to promote the rehabilitation of first-time drug offenders with the goal of intervening in multi-generational cycles of crime and drug abuse by supporting the literacy and educational success of at-risk children.

Program participants are referred to the library by the probation department and taught family literacy skills through weekly activities. They meet an hour each week for an eight-week period, reading and learning about library services and checking out books. Parents do whole-class activities, read to their children and are given books that offer tips on how to foster a love of learning at home.

The program has been a success. “Graduated” probationers must periodically report to the court and the vast majority of those who have gone through the program have been extremely positive.

For more information on the program, contact Brent Cardall, Chief Probation Officer, at (831) 636-4070.

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