Too often when the public thinks of solving crime all they see are prisons, police and punishment. The rehabilitation of criminals is often forgotten, left unfunded or seen as unimportant. Despite these alarming trends, there are still rehabilitation programs for criminals -- some here in Merced -- that actually help ex-cons make their way out of a life in crime.
To keep these people from falling back into their old ways, a bevy of local agencies keep an eye over their affairs. Sometimes their efforts are effective, but often they are not. In Merced the number of people still in the criminal justice system is daunting. There 3,500 adults and more than 1,000 juveniles on probation here. While the system grapples with fewer resources and a larges case loads it becomes ever more difficult to do little more than keep a keep an eye on this population. To find out how local agencies are holding up, Off the 99 brought to our studio Merced County's Chief Probation Officer Brian Cooley, Patty Carter, the director of the Merced County Day reporting center, and Justo Licona, a 20-year-old graduate of that center.