California judges are now able to slow down jail populations through a new sentencing method that gives courts more flexibility on where offenders serve their sentences. The method, called split sentencing, allows offenders to serve part of their sentence locked up and part on probation.
Split sentences are the result of the state’s prison population reduction plan, called realignment.
Realignment went into effect July 2011.
The number of split-sentenced offenders averaged 560 per month since realignment, totaling 21,500 felony offenders.
After realignment, the number of offenders sent to state prison was 20 percent higher than predicted, the report finds. Furthermore, jail populations were 11 percent higher.
Many county jails were already overcrowded before realignment, according the Winter 2012 newsletter published by the Chief Probation Officers of California: Mandatory Supervision: The Benefits of Evidence Based Supervision under Public Safety Realignment htt://www.cpoc.org/realignment.
The research showed offenders had the best chance of staying out of jail after release when they were involved in re-entry programming while incarcerated and then released into a supervised and structured program.
According to the report, offenders responded best when officers used risk assessment to determine the best plan for individuals to avoid criminal activity, used community-based services, paid special attention to high-risk offenders and took immediate action against offenders who violated the law or rules of probation.
Since realignment, nearly 16,500 offenders were sentenced to “straight time” with no mandatory supervision after release, the report states. These offenders were more likely to reoffend because they had no assistance reintegrating into the community once they were released, the report finds.
“These facts have two conclusions,” the report states. Sentencing offenders to straight time contributes to overcrowded jails. In addition, people coming out of jail without any treatment are more likely to recidivate than those who are supervised and case managed.