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Evaluating the Effects of California's Corrections Realignment on Public Safety

NCJ Number
Magnus Lofstrom; Joan Petersilia; Steven Rafael
Date Published
August 2012
18 pages
This study evaluated the effects of California's corrections realignment on public safety.
This study by the Public Policy Institute of California evaluated the State's implementation of a corrections realignment plan begun in October 2011. The plan was implemented in response to a court order to reduce the population of the State's seriously overcrowded prisons. The plan aims to shift responsibility for non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual felony offenders from the State correctional agency to the State's 58 county corrections agencies with the goal that counties would rely less on incarceration and more on alternative evidence-based approaches to support low-level offenders. Through this framework, counties would be in a better position to administer a variety of programs aimed at rehabilitation, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and job training and housing. Since implementation of the plan, the State prison population has been reduced by almost 16 percent, from 160,482 in September 2011 to 135,202 in June 2012. However the State has not established any statewide standards for the plan nor have they provided any funding to counties for implementation of the plan. In order to fully evaluate the success of the plan, the following outcomes need to be measured: effect on crime rates; the effect on offender recidivism rates; the degree to which prosecutors, judges, and sheriffs adjust their behavior in response to the realignment; the potential for jail overcrowding, and changes in bail and other pretrial decisions; the changes to the overall prison population in the State; and the cost and fiscal implications for local officials resulting from the realignment. Figures and a list of available data sources