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Back on Track: A Problem-Solving Reentry Court

NCJ Number
Jacquelyn L. Rivers; Lenore Anderson
Date Published
September 2009
2 pages

This BJA Fact Sheet profiles San Francisco's Back on Track Program (BOT) - a reentry initiative designed to reduce recidivism among low-level drug-trafficking defendants - which has been adopted by the National District Attorneys Association as a model program.


BOT participants are young adults, ages 18-30 facing charges for their first felony offense for a low-level drug sale. At charging, prosecutors refer potential participants to BOT. Candidates attend a program orientation and participate in an intensive community service program for a 6-week probationary period. Only defendants who complete this preliminary phase and decide to participate are eligible for enrollment. They plead guilty to charges and have their formal sentencing deferred. After enrolling in BOT, they begin a 12-18 month program with goals set by an individualized personal responsibility plan (PRP). The PRP mandates achievements in employment, education, parenting, and child support. It also requires participants to perform up to 220 hours of community service. In addition, participants are closely supervised. They meet three times a week with a BOT case manager and appear in BOT reentry court three times a month. A superior court judge and prosecutor track their progress in meeting program requirements and completing the PRP. In order to graduate from the program, participants must find employment or enroll in school full time, and comply with all the terms of their PRPs. At graduation, the court dismisses the original case, leaving the graduate with a clean record. Failure to meet BOT requirements results in removal from the program, at which time a judge can immediately impose a jail or prison sentence. BOT reports that less than 10 percent of its graduates reoffend. This is achieved at a fraction of the cost of traditional prosecution and jail time.