QUESTION: The blueprint recommended the addition of beds at the Adult Rehabilitation Center? How many beds do you see as being needed in this county?
Lees: I don't have a number. I don't
know how many are actually needed.
Lees: If we just wanted to incarcerate people, we couldn't build jail big enough.
Lees: Blueprint said if you have resources, increase the number of beds.
Larry Lees: Doesn't know how many beds are needed in the county for an Adult Rehabilitation Center. County going for 64 beds because it has to consider resources/funding.
Lees: There are other things you can do maintain surveillance on those who have made poor choices, like ankle monitors, day reporting center.
Lees: What I don't want to do is replicate the state prison system. It didn't work.
Lees: Sounds to me that we can put our resources in different direction.
Larry Lees: For rehab, don't need to provide a bed and meals, there are other things you can do. Doesn't want to replicate the state prison system. We can put our resources in another direction.
Lees: We have contracts with jails in other counties. Most of those contracts are less cost to us than housing them ourselves.
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Lees: Once a person is sentenced, you can house them out of county.
Lees: A bill surfaced last week in state Legislature that would allow us to jail them out of state. Don't know whether we want to do that.
Larry Lees: Intrigued by idea to house inmates out of county. Said it's cheaper than housing them here.
Lees: But I am intrigued by jailing them in other counties. It costs less and they have more space than we do at times.
Lees: We contract with Del Norte, Lassen, Nevada, Modoc counties.
Lees: Yes, it does. I've joked with the sheriff that we'd be better off closing jail for 2 years and put that money in juvenile rehabilitation. I say that tongue in cheek. We can't do that. But if we did more at a younger age, we would have to do less when they are at an older age.
Lees: Juvenile rehabilitation has cut recidivism from more than 30 percent to around 17 percent currently.
Lees: When we had the camp, we had kids from other counties housed here. That added to the higher recidivism rate.
Lees: I was asked other day why don't we build larger jail and rent out those cells to other counties. I don't want to be Susanville West. I want to turn people around.
Larry Lees: Doesn't want to become "Susanville West" and become largest incarceration county. Against taking in other county's jail populations.
QUESTION: So it sounds like you loved everything in the blueprint?
QUESTION: Was there anything that you took exception to in the blueprint?
Lees: Nothing that I was mad about.
Lees: Really nothing I read that I said "we'll never do that."
Lees: We have orientations with new employees. And one of the main things that come up in those conversations is safety. Public safety is No. 1.
Lees: I appreciate that question. I believe sometimes there's a perception city and county aren't in sync with each other. But the city and county work together more than people think, and work together more than we don't.
Lees: Like library, 911, trash. There are other things out there we work really well with.
Lees: City managers of three cities and I get together on regular basis and talk about how we can help each other. We work together and in harmony more than we don't.
Lees: On the Blueprint, has there been a time when we wanted to see something in the Blueprint process, unequivocally no.
Lees: There have been times when we can talk about sharing resources, like for the sobering center because it would be beneficial for the entire county.
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Lees: In working through up to this point in the Blueprint process, everyone has their priorities. We value and respect their opinions.
QUESTION: Tell us about your work relationship w Leonard Moty and Tom Bosenko.
Lees: There was never a time in any of those meetings that I didn't see anyone's views disrespected. But we had different priorities. Like Sheriff Bosenko wanted a larger rehabilitation center. That's his priority, not necessarily mine.
Larry Lees: Never has witnessed someone's opinion not respected concerning thoughts on Bllueprint for Public Safety. Each has his/her own priorities. Need to take emotion out of it and use data to support what we eventually decide what to do.
QUESTION: How do you reach compromise when you have competing visions, needs?
Lees: You use data to take emotion out of it. What's going to be the largest return on our services. Will it be three hots and a cot or mental health services?
QUESTION: Is there anything you need to know from the community?
Lees: In order for us to implement any of those things that require additional revenue, it;s going to be helpful to know from the community what they're willing to support. Not necessarily mean new sales tax, but where to shift funds from.
Larry Lees: To implement anything that requires additional revenue, need to know from the community what they are willing to support. Thanks a sales tax will be helpful, but also need to know where the community wants to shift funding from one service to another. So, it needs to be a very transparent and public process involving the community.
Lees: We're not making decision in silo, but make decisions pleasing for community as well. It's incumbe
nt for us to be public with our priorities and to find out what community is willing to support.
Lees: One of the things we're doing is to put mental health workers in both hospitals' ERs. They can help those cleared medically but need mental health aid.
Larry Lees: Would love to see a crisis stabilization unit for the county. County working now to place mental health workers in the hospitals to better diagnosis those medically cleared but have "behavioral health need."
QUESTION: One thing I noticed in the blueprint is a number of recommendations for alternatives to incarceration programs. How did that come about from the first version?
Lees: The only conversation I had was a high level conversation where I asked about the other things we talked about in the original discussion.
Lees: Extremely difficult and frustrating. It's a national problem. Fewer individuals are going into that line of work. Takes a special kind of person who wants to do that.
Lees: Take a look at the incident last week with the two children. That would be very difficult to deal with.
Lees: We need to be looking at different options, like a regional solution.
Lees; When we had a person with that title in place, we did work for other counties.
We’re going to wrap up our chat with Larry Lees. We thank him and you for spending an hour with us. Our live chat series takes a break but resumes on Jan. 29 when City Manager Kurt Starman visits us. Later today, listen to the audio recording here: soundcloud.com