COMPILED QUOTES FROM THE CDCR STAR
County Officials have varying opinions about funding realignment and its affect on public safety.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is expecting an influx of about 1,000 offenders annually. Gascón says that the city is “ahead of the curve.” To help decide what kind of punishment county prosecutors should seek, he intends to hire a sentencing analyst to assess illegal behavior in San Francisco and those who commit them.
Alameda will get $9.2 million to implement a plan that focuses on practices such as home detentions and mental-health treatment.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck and County Sheriff Lee Baca say realignment could reverse years of dropping crime rates. “This is not alignment, this is a recipe for making the problem much worse,” said Villaraigosa. “Sacramento is transferring more than 4,200 offenders to L.A. and not a single dollar to help with the burden,” Villaraigosa said. “That is not alignment. That is political malpractice.” Cate insisted, however, that the mayor was “wrong on the facts regarding realignment.” Los Angeles has the state’s largest jail population and will receive about a third of the state’s realigned offenders. L.A. County currently has 4,600 beds, but District Attorney Steve Cooley estimates 8,000 county jail beds will be needed.
San Diego County has extra jail space, but it’s still not enough “…Under realignment, the county must now accommodate roughly 2,000 felons in a jail system that currently has only 800 vacant beds,” said Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins. The county has estimated realignment could cost $100 million a year. The state has promised San Diego $25 million so far, but Walt Ekard, the county’s chief administrative officer, said there are no guarantees the state will keep its commitment in the future.
Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties appear to have the best plans for realignment. “What we like about Santa Cruz County is that their jails are over capacity, and yet they have made the decision that they do not want to increase their jail space, but they want to increase alternatives to incarceration,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre, campaign director for Critical Resistance, a member organization of Californians United for a Responsible Budget, or CURB.
“I think there is a value to realignment
because I think it’s going to give us an
opportunity to work with some of the imates and
kind of get out of this mentality that everyone
need to be locked up“
“We know there will be some impacts, but it is impossible to know what they will be, said Kenneth Small, Huntington Beach’s police chief and president of the Orange County Chief of Police and Sheriff’s Association. Orange County will receive about $23-million realignment dollars to pay for the annual increase of 3,434 offenders serving local time.
“The hope is that instead of staying in prison, people will be released sooner and put on an alternative program that will give them treatment options that will be better for them in the long run,” said Lt. Mike Toby, who is overseeing realignment for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. “If Sonoma County is committed to getting people rehabilitated, this is an excellent opportunity to do that.”
Kern County will receive $10.8 million despite being less populous and less successful at keeping offenders from returning to jail. “Local government will be overwhelmed as more and more convicted criminals are dumped into counties and the promise of new revenue from voter-approved taxes fails to come to fruition,” Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, said. “This plan is dangerous. Public safety will be increasingly compromised.”
Tulare County sheriff Bill Wittman said his department has been preparing for an increased population for some time by opening space at its Adult Pre-Trial Jail. The county also has plans to hire more correctional officers, probation officers, assistant district attorneys and public defenders as part of their plan. The state is providing $5.6 million to Tulare County for a realignment plan that will house around 520 prisoners who would otherwise be in state prison.
Santa Cruz County Jail is already over its capacity of 311, and local law enforcement officials said they expect about 120 additional offenders and parolees over the next year. The county is expected to get about $1.6 million realignment dollars over the next nine months.
Rancho Cucamonga 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford held a community forum to discuss the realignment plan. Around 250 professionals in the justice system and related fields attended. Sheriff Rod Hoops said that realignment could greatly increase the number of prisoners in an already crowded jail system. Hoops believes that $34 million allocated will fall short of what’s needed to staff a new jail.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson says despite the fact that his jail is full; he thinks realignment could be a good move to rehabilitate offenders in the state. “I think there is value to realignment because I think it’s going to give us an opportunity to work with some of the inmates, transition some of the inmates and kind of get out of this mentality that everyone needs to be locked up,” says Parkinson. San Luis Obispo County will receive $2 million for realignment in the first year and expects $4 million next year.
Even before realignment, Stanislaus officials recognized that they would need 1,761 jail beds by 2040, or 269 more than the current 1,492 capacity on paper; an Honor Farm fire and shutting wings to save money reduced that number to 1,066 – this equates to an additional $7 million for the Sheriff’s Department.
The realignment plan allocates $2.8 million to Merced County, in which $1.9 million will be used to expand the county’s adult day reporting center, buying electronic monitoring and GPS equipment to monitor inmates on home confinement, and vocational training programs. In the plan, $733,746 will go toward salaries and benefits for probation officers and others hired to monitor the adult offenders. The plan includes $39,520 for services and supplies and $89,200 for fixed assets such as county vehicles and furniture.
Contra Costa will get $4.6 million to pay for the increased responsibility during the 2011/2012 fiscal year. However, officials said this amount is “inadequate to comprehensively provide for the needs of the AB109 offender population.” Instead, it is expected to cost $8.1 million to fulfill the new law’s mandate. During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office alone transferred 1,276 inmates to state prisons to serve parole violations and sent 505 inmates for new prison commitments.
Monterey County probation chief Manuel Real, Sheriff Scott Miller, Public Defender Jim Egar and District Attorney Dean Flippo were critical of the realignment plan – citing public safety issues, including a lack of space in an already overcrowded county jail, the lack of additional law enforcement funding to deal with inmates released early, the potential for outspending the $4.4 million allocated from the state for the rest of the fiscal year, the absence of a guaranteed future funding source, and a lack of proper time to consider the local plan and conduct community outreach.