By KTVU.com

SAN FRANCISCO — A state Assembly committee gathered ideas from Bay Area law enforcement and community representatives at a hearing in San Francisco Wednesday on how to help people avoid going to prison and avoid going back.

The purpose of the Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment session was to obtain information that could shape legislation aimed at reducing prison and jail overcrowding and increasing rehabilitation, according to committee co-chair Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

“I think we have a long way to go. When you have a (statewide) recidivism rate of 70 to 30, we know there’s a lot more to do,” Ammiano said after the hearing at the State Building.

The San Francisco hearing was one of a series the committee is holding around California on various prison issues.

Programs described by local experts included diversion projects, alternative community courts, gang ceasefire efforts and services for released prisoners making the transition back to their communities.

Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told the committee that such programs make sense not only morally but economically as well.

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