California’s rural counties play a critical role in protecting their local communities. The California State Constitution requires each county to hold elections to elect both a County Sheriff and District Attorney. Both the County Sheriff and the District Attorney are charged with enforcing the State’s criminal justice laws, and upholding local ordinances prohibiting specified activities as approved by the County Board of Supervisors. The Probation Chief has taken on an increasing set of responsibilities in the wake of recent criminal justice system reforms. That position serves both the local Board of Supervisors and the local superior court.
Most counties maintain local jail detention facilities, administer and offer recidivism reduction programs and anti-gang services, supervise individuals in the community following their release from jail or prison, administer mental health and rehabilitative treatment programs, as well as prosecute crimes and provide defense services to the indigent associated with violations of various state statutes and local ordinances. While the Sheriff and District Attorney are both independently elected, funding for these two county departments must, in general, be approved by County Boards of Supervisors. In addition to the more commonly known county performed public safety services, many counties also provide fire protection services and other disaster management activities.
RCRC works to ensure that county public safety programs and services are provided adequate funding, and advocates for long-term funding mechanisms that support the county’s role to protect local communities. RCRC also supports dedicated, constitutionally protected State revenue streams for local law enforcement programs that were included as part of the 2011 criminal justice realignment , including AB 109, the Rural and Small County Law Enforcement Program, the Citizens Option for Public Safety, and the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act. Additionally, RCRC works closely with the Legislature and the Administration to ensure that counties have funding to support their jail detention facility and programming capacity needs.