Local officials are worried that money for Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison realignment plan may not continue after the current year.
Realignment is currently funded by one percent of state sale tax revenues and a $12 increased vehicle registration fee, one-time increases that expire after fiscal year 2011-12. It remains unclear how the $5.6 billion that the legislature approved for the plan will be obtained.
Realignment is a shift in California’s approach to crime and punishment, comprised of multiple pieces of legislation that change how the state deals with some offenders.
“Last year we had 47,000 offenders serve 90 days or less in prison. That’s the group we’re trying to get out with realignment,” said California Department of Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate. However, the Legislature maintained that the provisions of realignment are not intended to alleviate state prison overcrowding, according to the Prosecutors’ Analysis of the 2011 Criminal Justice Realignment.
Gov. Brown has assured county officials that he will lead a ballot campaign to create a constitutional amendment so that money allocated for Public Safety Realignment may never be cut.
“If passed, such an amendment would further weaken education, child care and services for the poor,” says criminal justice professor Barry Krisberg, University of California, Berkeley.
“This laissez faire approach means that 58 counties will produce many differing versions of the reform — we will see the emergence of justice by geography. Achieving the promise of realignment will depend heavily on the creativity and willingness of local officials to try different approaches. We may see some counties implement evidence-based rehabilitation models and others that will just expand their local incarceration capacity,” Krisberg concluded.