The “realignment” of state and county responsibilities for offenders is effective October 1. It represents the most significant reform in California’s correctional policy in more than 20 years.
CDCR has created a Realignment web page, accessible from CDCR’s internet homepage to keep up with the complex changes, many of which will affect the responsibilities of the department’s employees.
The page includes detailed written and video presentations that provide an overview of the new laws regarding realignment, how the realignment will affect parole supervision and revocation, and estimates of change in the inmate population for each of CDCR’s 33 institutions.
Housing lower-level offenders in local jurisdictions will close the “revolving door” of their recycling in and out of state prisons. Realignment has the potential to reduce recidivism as offenders remain in their communities, close to their families and social services they might rely on post-release. At the same time, it will relieve overcrowding in CDCR institutions to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court Three-Judge Court ruling.
Governor Brown, who signed the legislation (AB 109/AB 117) to initiate realignment, recently explained the need for it to a conference of local law enforcement officials in Sacramento.
“We can’t ignore the Supreme Court,” said Brown of the order to reduce the inmate population. “There was a time when the number of people in local jails and in prison was about equal. Now, it’s about a 2-to-1 ratio,” he said, with more inmates in prison.
To correct that imbalance, Brown added, “we need to make important adjustments and go about it in a thoughtful way.” It requires collaboration with local police, sheriff and mental health officials, he said, because local solutions are more effective and reflect the needs of local communities. “What works in Modoc County is different than what may work in Los Angeles,” he said, adding that responding to the diversity of local needs is more effective than a “homogenized” policy from Sacramento.
Brown also assured local officials that he will support them in every way as they assume responsibility for an increased inmate population.
“I know you are concerned about money,” he acknowledged. The newly signed realignment legislation includes revenue for local law enforcement. Nonetheless, said Brown, “I will make sure you get a constitutional guarantee that law enforcement gets the money it needs. This is a bold step that is long overdue, and it’s been done in other states.”