California Realignment: Pace quickens for now

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Is there a light at the end of the realignment tunnel? (photo: decade_null/Flickr)

We are now about nine months into California’s Public Safety Realignment which is designed to reduce state prison overcrowding, as ordered by the federal court, and to allow local government to have more authority and accountability for lower level offenders.  

The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco reported this week that California has seen a 39 percent reduction in new prison admissions. In addition, the state prison populations has dropped nearly 27,000 inmates, well on the way to the goal of a 40,000 inmate reduction.  However, both the federal court and  the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are concerned that momentum is slowing and  that it may be very difficult to meet the overall goal.

This article from Contra Costa County indicates some good things are happening.  Recidivism is down and more inmates are reporting to the probation officers than before. But at the same time, some county officials bristle at having so many offenders “dumped” into their laps  without enough time to plan or react. 

Is it providing real reform or is it simply a quick fix? Opinions vary.

“The data are critical to making sure that public officials monitor how well the new policy is working, and to adjust course as needed to assure resources are used in the most effective way to reduce recidivism and crime,”  said Sharon Aungst, Director of California Forward’s Partnership for Community Excellence. “Our goal is to work with with local officials, advocates and experts to make sure that leaders have the information they need to make the smartest decisions possible.”

California Forward’s Partnership for Community Excellence was established to provide information and assistance to enable county officials and local criminal justice agencies build the capacity, culture, infrastructure and integrated systems necessary to successfully implement Realignment and improve public safety outcomes.

“The Partnership is a good example of how  California Forward believes we will turn this state around,” said Jim Mayer, California Forward  Executive Director.  “We have plenty of smart professionals who are willing to work together to solve problems – in this case to put in place cost-effective community corrections.” 

The Partnership for Community Excellence will hold its next meeting on Tuesday (August 21) in Sacramento.


Ed Coghlan

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