Monday, October 1, 2012

One Year In, Realignment Dramatically Cuts Size of California Prison Population

Smaller population helps satisfy court orders, control costs, prevent early release

SACRAMENTO – When the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the State of California to reduce prison overcrowding in 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the Legislature responded with Public Safety Realignment. The state’s main tool for reducing the prison population has already cut the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons by more than 24,000. This has been achieved without any early or unsupervised release of state prison inmates. All offenders are monitored after their court-ordered sentence is completed.

“Realignment is good policy and it’s working,” said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Matthew Cate. “Realignment prevented early release, and is allowing us to meet the Supreme Court’s order while ensuring there is room in our prisons for serious offenders. We must also acknowledge the hard work and collaboration of State and local officials to ensure public safety during the implementation of Realignment.”

Realignment is also helping California achieve two other important goals: reducing the amount of money spent on the state prison system, and bolstering State and local rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism and improve overall public safety.

When Realignment is fully implemented in 2015, the annual prison budget will be reduced by $1.5 billion, representing an 18 percent drop in State corrections spending, and up to 70 percent of inmates will get the rehabilitation programs that they need.

Under Public Safety Realignment (also commonly known as AB 109), low-level offenders who formerly would have served a sentence in State prison now serve their time in county jail. Such offenders are also now supervised by county probation officers, instead of State parole after they have completed their sentences in prison.

Realignment has the support of many of State and local leaders. Success stories include the Alternative Custody Service program in Butte County, with an initial recidivism rate of around 19 percent, and the new Day Reporting Center in Sonoma County, which was funded by Realignment. Many of California’s local law-enforcement associations, including those representing sheriffs, police chiefs and probation officers, support the Governor’s efforts to secure permanent funding for Realignment

Realignment was the best and safest way forward when the State of California was ordered to reduce prison overcrowding. The other main options were building several new prisons in two years or releasing 33,000 inmates early from prison.

The Brown administration has made significant progress in changing prison conditions in order to get California out from under expensive federal oversight. Overall health-care scores in California’s 33 adult prisons are rising (as measured by the Office of the Inspector General). The judge in the health-care lawsuit (Plata) wrote this year that “the end of the Receivership is in sight” and the judge in the dental lawsuit (Perez) dismissed that case in August.


October 1, 2012
Contact: Jeffrey Callison
(916) 445-4950