In 2011, the Legislature enacted a comprehensive criminal justice realignment scheme whereby counties became responsible for addressing criminal offenders that had traditionally been the responsibility of the State. Under the provisions of Assembly Bill 109, persons who formerly would have served sentences for felony convictions in state prison now serve their terms in county jails, and many of those discharged from state prison now are supervised in the community by county probation departments rather than state parole. These changes were made with the hope of relieving prison overcrowding, reducing recidivism levels, and providing better services to offenders in order to ultimately reduce the burden to taxpayers and crime victims. Under 2011 criminal justice realignment, a number of county departments, most notably the probation department, became responsible for meeting these new demands. Much of the funding for 2011 criminal justice realignment flows from a dedicated portion of state sales tax proceeds, and these revenues are required to be provided to counties under the State’s Constitution.
Counties throughout the state continuously work to implement and improve their criminal justice realignment programs. A number of issues that have been associated with this significant policy change include expanding/renovating local jail facilities, providing adequate funding to county departments, and ensuring that rehabilitation programs exist (and are funded) in rural counties to reduce recidivism.
RCRC works with a variety of county organizations and state agencies charged with implementing criminal justice realignment. Furthermore, RCRC opposes revisions in State law that disrupt the implementation efforts and increase burdens to counties, particularly when there is no data or corresponding analysis that warrants such changes.
Staff: Paul A. Smith