This report summarizes the results of interviews conducted with California stakeholders responsible for implementing California's Public Safety Realignment Act (Assembly Bill 109), which shifts responsibility for managing most lower level offenders from the State to California's 58 counties.
Of the 125 stakeholders interviewed - which included local police, sheriffs, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation and parole agents, victim advocates, offenders, and social-service representatives - probation officials were the most enthusiastic champions of Realignment, welcoming the Realignment legislation's focus on rehabilitation and the diminished use of incarceration. Using State funding authorized under AB 109, probation departments have opened day reporting centers, the expanded use of risk assessment tools, and collaborated with community partners to establish quality evidence-based programs for offenders. Public defenders were also optimistic about Realignment, but were concerned about the longer county jail terms their clients face as well as the conditions under which they are housed. Prosecutors, on the other hand, generally gave Realignment negative reviews, complaining about their loss of discretion under this law. Judges had mixed opinions, although most were concerned about a loss of discretion and the increased court caseload. Law enforcement professionals, both front-line police and sheriffs varied more than any other group in their assessment of Realignment with their opinions largely influenced by local jail capacity. Sheriffs also noted that longer jail terms were challenging their ability to provide adequate medical and mental health care to inmates; jail crowding was forcing some to release offenders early. Most stakeholder interviews indicated Realignment had spawned increased collaboration at all levels of the criminal justice system, facilitating a more holistic view of offender management. A 181-item bibliography and appended list of interviewees, interview questions, determination of pre- and post-AB 109 control orientation, and overview of Public Safety Realignment
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: January 1, 2014