Realignment and Re-entry

Like most states, California has never seriously invested in helping ex-offenders re-establish themselves in society after serving their time. To the contrary, ex-offenders are stigmatized in a variety of ways—barred from many forms of employment, unable to receive public benefits of various kinds, and effectively disenfranchised.Because California is now required by a federal court to significantly reduce state prison populations, this could be an opportunity for low-level offenders to be released into re-entry programs. Instead, under what is called “realignment,” many county sheriffs are seeking to keep low-level offenders locked up rather than assist in their successful re-entry. We need to fight for real re-entry support services if realignment is not to become just another form of warehousing.

Don’t Blame Realignment for Crime Spike

ast month, my job sent me to a slew of police community meetings. San Franciscans, angry that their Audis’ windows were smashed or their iPhone was stolen at 6th and Market, demanded answers. Like clockwork, the Captains leading the meeting shook their heads and told us, “It’s all the folks out of state prison because of Realignment. People who used to be in state prison, now they’re on our streets.” Is it true? Public Safety Realignment legislation AB109 (aka “Realignment”), redirected … [Read more...]

One County’s Success Story with Realignment

omething is happening, quietly, in Contra Costa County that should get the attention of the entire state. If it did, we could be on the road to much better, more cost-effective policies for keeping our communities safe. Since October 2011, California counties have faced a new responsibility for their criminal justice populations. In an effort to reduce overcrowding in state prisons, the governor and Legislature enacted Public Safety Realignment, which shifted management of – and money for – … [Read more...]

Post-Prison Arrests Down, Convictions Static under Realignment

ne-year arrest rates are down and conviction rates are virtually static for offenders released after completing their state prison sentences post-Realignment, according to a report released today by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “The results here are very encouraging, especially when you consider they reflect the very beginning of Realignment, when counties were in the early stages of implementing rehabilitative programs.” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard. … [Read more...]

How Counties Handle Realignment Differently

The state's prison realignment program shifted thousands of would-be state prisoners to local control. But it didn't set up a mechanism for tracking what happened to the population or the impact on the counties where they ended up. Now, two papers out of Stanford Law School's Criminal Justice Center look at how realignment is playing out in California counties. How realignment is perceived In the first study, Stanford Law Professor Joan Petersilia spoke with 125 local stakeholders: police … [Read more...]

Hold Your County Supervisors Accountable: Share the Video, Sign the Petition

Last Wednesday, Justice Not Jails used the second anniversary of the implementation of AB 109 - Public Safety Realignment - to indict the powerful LA County Board of Supervisors for gross mismanagement and dereliction of its duty to implement the program effectively, using more community-based resources instead of continued heavy reliance incarceration. Speakers at Wednesday's press conference referred to this chart showing that LA County is using 80% of the hundreds of millions it gets from … [Read more...]

Foot-Dragging on Criminal Justice Reform

Two years ago, California overhauled its criminal justice system by shifting responsibility for many felons from the state government to the counties. There is no denying that the change was abrupt. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Public Safety Realignment Act, also known as AB 109, on April 4, 2011, and followed up with a companion bill that fleshed out many of the funding details in June of that year. Counties then had just three months to prepare their jails, their law enforcement … [Read more...]

Stopping Our Prisons’ Revolving Door

If California is serious about reducing its prison population, one crucial component will have to be reducing recidivism. Currently, a lot of the state's inmates are men and women who've been in prison more than once. They get out, they have little training or education, they can't get jobs and, in many cases, they return to lives of crime and find themselves back behind bars. But a major new study of correctional education in U.S. state prisons suggests there are things California could do … [Read more...]

Brown’s Revised Budget Discriminates Against Mentally Ill

April was a grim month for legislators hoping to chip away at Realignment, as some 20 bills proposing to do so died in committee. Last week, however, one such bill saw hope for new life. Gov. Brown’s revised budget, released May 14, revived a bill requiring that certain people with mental illness be supervised by state parole, rather than county probation, regardless of their current offense or mental health status. The bill stigmatizes people who have suffered from mental illness by shackling … [Read more...]

Realignment: Pay for What Works

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor's concerns about realignment and public safety rest in part on how well people do on probation. County Probation Chief Jerry Powers’ remark at the April 23rd meeting suggests a path to greater success: “. . . we do know that to the extent that we can get these individuals hooked into treatment prior to their release into our communities, the better chance we have for success with them.” Chief Powers’ remark has implications for two concerns the Board … [Read more...]

Recent Urban Crime Increases Not Linked to Realignment

San Francisco: Since California’s Public Safety Realignment (AB109) was implemented in October 2011, critics have charged that the policy, which keeps low-level felons under county supervision instead of sending them to prison, is leading to crime increases across the state. However, these assertions are based on anecdote rather than evidence. A new report by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice,  California’s Urban Crime Increase in 2012: Is “Realignment” to Blame?, has analyzed the … [Read more...]