SAN DIEGO -
New numbers obtained by 10News point to a surprising verdict when it comes to a controversial plan to move criminals from the state to the local level.
10News took a closer look at the first numbers to come in -- those for juvenile offenders.
Two years ago, Lamar Mack-Santos was arrested for robbery.
"I made a big dumb decision," said Mack-Santos.
Kimberly Heard found herself in custody seven times between the ages of 15 and 17 for offenses including theft.
"It was part alcohol, part hanging around the wrong people. All around, it was a bad point in my life," said Heard.
Both Mack-Santos and Heard would likely have been headed to state custody if not for a 2007 state bill that's relocated more than 5,000 non-violent -- and often chronic juvenile offenders -- to local facilities.
"I was absolutely very concerned," said Mack Jenkins, Chief Probation Officer for San Diego County.
At first, Jenkins echoed the worries about funding heard around the state.
The state sent the county about $117,000 per year for each juvenile. With the money, probation officials began an aggressive, comprehensive program focused on substance abuse, education, work training, classes like anger management and providing mentors.
Being in local custody often allows the juvenile offender to have a better support system and makes it easier to address other issues.
"We're in a better position to work with the family, not just the youth," said Jenkins.
The results have been encouraging. So far, one year after leaving custody, about 25 percent of the offenders considered the most challenging are reoffending. That's less than the 30 percent rate for all juvenile offenders in the county.
A state audit reported similar, anecdotal findings around the state.
Jenkins said when fewer return to the system, that's money saved for taxpayers.
It's been two years since Heard's last offense. She's hoping to eventually enlist in the Navy.
Mack- Santos received his high school diploma in custody and has a job with transit security.
"I'm moving [in] the right direction, the straight path," said Mack-Santos.
Jenkins said while they've had to get a little creative, the state funding for the program has been sufficient.
In all, some 380 offenders have been transferred to the county since 2007.
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