The Sentencing Commission Bill, A.B. 1376, will come today before the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. The Analyst's review connects the Bill to the overcrowding crisis and to the tentative decision in the health care cases. Its comments about the fiscal effects of the new bill are particularly telling as to the shorter, vaguer, amended version of the bill we have discussed here and here:
1)Because this measure is in skeletal form, precise costs cannot be determined. Based, however, on earlier sentencing commission models, annual costs would be in the range of $2.5 million, depending on the authority of the body.
For example, this committee estimated costs for SB 110 (Romero, 2008) - which was charged with developing mandatory sentencing guidelines and significant tasks, such as preparing inmate population projections, developing recommendations on the state's inmate population, providing training to criminal justice practitioners, conducting research, and developing materials, information systems and annual reports to the legislature - would be in the range of $2.5 million, with a staff of about 20.
2) Prospective costs/savings due to actions of the body cannot be determined, though it is likely a non-politicized sentencing commission, using evidence-based practices and models, could recommend a sentencing/parole scheme that results in significant net state savings.
In non-legislative language: Since we don't know what is proposed, we don't know how much it costs. But if this is a cover for the same thing that has been proposed time and time again, we've already estimated the cost of that. The initiative's potential for savings depends on how well it does its job.
We'll post an update as soon as we know what happened at the hearing.