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California’s Lack of Oversight for Probationary Programs Allows Questionable Business into Loop

California law encourages life-skill organizations to become involved in criminal justice, but a lack of oversight has allowed some non-profits to talk about responsibility while the organization itself shirks it.

A review by the Voice of San Diego (VOSD) of the Corrective Behavior Institute uncovered serious problems with the well-intentioned law. Such organizations are able to complete a one-page form swearing qualification for placement on a court list of providers for people guilty of misdemeanors like theft, shoplifting, and graffiti.

There are no state or county qualification standards, no is a resume, experience, or training required. This allows anyone wanting to start a business offering rehabilitation classes to set up shop and have clients referred to it by the court.

To be referred persons convicted of graffiti, Corrective Behavior gave the following description: “Community clean-up, group discussion. Guest speaker, nine hour program.”

That sparse offering landed Corrective Behavior on the courts’ listing, which, in turn, resulted in city attorneys recommending defendants attend the program as part of the sentencing deal. Chief Deputy City Attorney for San Diego, Regan Savalla, said she recommended Corrective Behavior merely because it was only the list.

What rehabilitative value is attributed to Corrective Behavior’s classes is undeterminable, but defendants must pay for them nonetheless. VOSD’s investigation revealed that while Corrective Behavior espouses conformity with society’s rules and law, it is not going likewise.

In fact, its leader in 2008 testified she was not running the organization or knew who was on this board or whether it even had one. The truth was that Margherita Martinez had signed documents telling the IRS she was running Corrective Behavior, but she denied it when it was sued over an outstanding loan.

Because its budget is so small, $85,000 in 2011, Corrective Behavior falls under the oversight radar of the IRS. “It’s lacking financial accountability and oversight, two bedrock principles of well-run nonprofits,” said Daniel Borochoff, president of Charity Watch. “It’s so small; it’s probably not on anyone’s radar.”

Once alerted to the matter, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith directed his prosecutors to stop recommending Corrective Behavior while his office makes a review. Others urge more oversight.

“The law seems to be silent as to oversight,” said Michael Ruddy, executive director of the San Diego Superior Court. “It’s a hole out there I wish the legislature would address. It’s a real concern.”


Source: Voice of San Diego

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