Yolo County Chief Probation Officer Marjorie Rist is leaving her post so she can continue her education and pursue criminal-justice consulting opportunities, county officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
In a phone interview Wednesday evening, Rist said she plans to seek out work that “plays to my strengths,” such as education, training and technical assistance.
“I’m more comfortable steeped in academics and subject matter, therefore I’m more comfortable in that realm,” said Rist, 37. “I think I can be more effective supporting other leaders.”
Rist’s resignation is effective July 27.
She began working for Yolo County in September 2004 as assistant juvenile hall superintendent. She promoted to probation program manager in 2007 and assistant chief probation officer in 2009, taking the lead over the department later that year following the departure of former Probation Chief Don Meyer.
County officials credited Rist with heading up or participating in numerous accomplishments during her tenure, including the construction of a new Juvenile Detention Facility and various amenities within it, decreasing the facility’s population by as much as 75 percent and out-of-home placements by as much as 85 percent, and decreasing adult probation failure rate for adults by more than 44 percent.
During the past year, Rist has chaired a Community Corrections Partnership — comprising law enforcement, court officials and county leaders — to develop an implementation plan for Assembly Bill 109, the public safety realignment measure that calls for felons convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes to serve their time in local county jails instead of state prisons. It became effective Oct. 1, 2011.
Rist said the CCP recently unanimously approved the proposed fund allocations for AB 109’s second year, a plan scheduled to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in late July.
“We have a very engaged and innovative Community Corrections Partnership, in large part due to Chief Rist’s efforts,” said Jim Provenza, chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. “With AB 109, we have a tremendous opportunity to effect positive change in the public safety arena, which is off to a productive start through the leadership of Chief Rist.
“We know her criminal justice expertise as a consultant in the field will be of great value to many throughout the state and the country. We wish her well in her future endeavors,” Provenza added.
In May, the Yolo County grand jury released a report criticizing the Probation Department for what it called an atmosphere of inconsistency, low productivity and poor morale, based in part on a 17-year lapse in updating its policy manual, as well as the absence of a method for ensuring whether all its employees are properly trained.
Rist defended her agency, saying significant budget reductions have resulted in “unintended consequences” that only recently began to reveal themselves.
“This has been complicated by the addition of duties associated with the landmark change of criminal justice realignment, and gaps are continuing to emerge as we wrestle with the change,” Rist said at the time. “Nonetheless, the department’s staff are highly competent and knowledgeable, and we look forward to working together to fill the needs that were identified by the grand jury.”
On Wednesday, Rist called the grand jury report a “fair critique” but said it had no relation to her decision to pursue other employment opportunities.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene