Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ready or not california, here they come...,

LATimes | Beginning Oct. 1, inmates from 33 California prisons who are released on parole will begin reporting to county probation officers rather than state parole agents. The new local authority over "post-release community supervision" will apply only to those whose convictions were for non-serious, nonviolent, non-sex-related offenses. On the same date, newly convicted "non-non-non" offenders will be remitted to county custody — to jail, or to community programs or other sentencing alternatives — instead of being sent to state prison. And newly accused defendants without outstanding warrants who need to be monitored until their trial dates may be required to wear electronic ankle bracelets in lieu of being incarcerated.

These three new approaches to dealing with criminal offenders and defendants are the primary components of AB 109, also known as public safety realignment. The bill, signed into law this year, is Sacramento's response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Plata, which ordered the sharp reduction of the state prison population to reduce overcrowding and address medical inadequacies that were so severe as to violate the 8th Amendment's strictures against cruel and unusual punishment.

To reformers, realignment represents a landmark transition from a generation's worth of tough-on-crime policies to a new, less expensive, more enlightened and more effective "smart on crime" approach. Prisoners now get little in the way of rehabilitation behind bars and little in the way of "reentry" support — such as substance-abuse treatment and counseling, medical attention, mental healthcare and housing — when they are paroled. Thus unprepared for life as healthy, productive and contrite citizens, they re-offend at an astonishing rate of 67.5%. In theory — in theory, mind you — counties are better equipped than the state to supervise and support low-level offenders, and are prepared to do it for less money.

But Los Angeles County supervisors are worried. And they should be. They have a checkered track record in oversight and administration. And they have knowledge of and experience with Sacramento and past attempts at realigning funds and services. Where hopeful reformers see a new smart-on-crime paradigm, the supervisors sense an all-too-familiar inadequately funded off-loading of state problems onto the counties.

9 comments:

Big Don said...

Recognize that many of the actual *convictions* for non-non-non are the results of plea bargaining down serious felonies, e.g., drive-by shootings that missed (attempted murders) become "possession of a controlled substance" found on the perps...

Tom said...

 A liberal is a conservative who just got arrested.

Rembom said...

Good stuff, Tom.  Sounds like Mark Twain.  BD World is often classic (timeless) authoritarian in style.  Which Orwell described so well as Doublethink: "holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them".

Rembom said...

"convictions were for non-serious, nonviolent, non-sex-related offenses"  Why were these guys sent to the gladiator school (prison) in the first place?  The prison system as we find it today actually CREATES serious, violent, or sex-related offenders.  Non-violent offenders introduced into a prison environment will learn how to survive there, and Bubba and the Boys don't have a lot of respect for non-violent negotiation.  We have plenty of prison capacity, if we lockup only those who really are serious, violent, or sex-related offenders.  Compare incarceration-per-capita stats in other countries...ANY other country.  Can one sensibly argue that all the US's extravagant incarceration has made its society safer than any other place in the world?

The LA County Sheriff runs the jails, and they will make room in their already overcrowded facilities by more aggressively using bail schedules, and other non-custodial options.  They've been doing this for a long time already, only now it will be even more so.  The Probation Dept...well, the article deals with that, but fails to mention that supervised release in LA County is among the most understaffed in the nation.  That's before AB109.

Here's a point for you: the public in general is not aware of the aggressive release/don't hold policy the Sheriff has been forced into, or the natural consequences.  But the criminal community knows all about it, and manages their outside activities accordingly.  "You're not going to do any time for crime", if your crime falls below the custody bar's ever increasing height.  Sort of a secret benefit to the criminal community...secret only to the reflexively "lock'em up" voting public.

Near the end of the article, it says " True realignment requires...counties to win
back their power over tax money collected locally..."  For the uninitiated, that's a direct reference to Prop 13, something akin in California to a political third rail, and the original leading edge of enacting "starve the beast" policies, circa 1978.  The LA Times editorial staff didn't feel the need to mention that.

Tom said...

Rembom,  I ripped it off from the enigmatic and sometimes awesome John Varley.  

Big Don said...

BD is not pro-prison.  BD is pro Death Penalty.  Abolish plea bargaining and prosecute every crime to the full weight of the evidence.  Two felonies and your dead (one feloony if it's serious enough) with swift processing, like in the good old days pre-1960 where elapsed time was a year or less from the conviction...
Then there would be some serious attitude adjustment on the street and, e.g., in the financial community.  Much reduced need for a prison-industrial-complex...
Would that make you nervous...??

Again, the American voting public is pro death penalty...

brotherbrown said...

We have six-figure salary patrol officers, six-figure salary prison guards, and unionized deputy district attorneys.  But at no level of government is reform of the Judiciary discussed.

The court order to bring the prison population down to merely 125% of capacity (compared to nearly 200% capacity) has been coming for a number of years.  The state was given time to prepare secured re-entry facilities and local re-entry collaboratives, and in my county we  thought we had secured funding through a state grant, but the budget crisis took it all off the table.

What I predict will begin to happen is that county jails will be squeezed, and will in turn begin to release non-violent county jail inmates to take make room for parole violators, given that they find very little community support to keep them moving on a positive path.

CNu said...

the gladiator school lol@shades of johnie pearl...,

CNu said...

Time to begin decriminalizing "offences" that hadn't oughta ever been criminalized in the first place!

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