Saturday, March 31, 2012

Realignment Report by the ACLU of California

A new report by the ACLU of California examines realignment so far, including the allocation of funds to counties. Their executive summary finds four troubling themes:

  • A troubling lack of state monitoring, data collection, outcome measurements and funding incentives to help counties successfully implement realignment.
  • A dramatic increase in spending on county jails—facilitated by billions of dollars in state funding—particularly in those counties that have historically sent more people to state prison for low-level, non-violent offenses.
  • A shockingly high number of people who present no real threat to public safety being held in county jails before having their day in court, incarcerated without trial simply because they cannot afford bail.
  • A promising commitment—though not yet realized—by many counties to adopt alternatives to incarceration and evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism. A few counties are adopting innovative programs and approaches that can serve as models for the rest of the state, but all too often our analysis revealed few, if any, resources allocated for such programs.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Data Collection. Mandate standardized data collection and analysis across the 58 counties in order to monitor which policies and programs are working to reduce recidivism and reliance upon incarceration, and base policy and budget decisions on those findings.
  • Funding Formula. Revise the state funding allocation formula to incentivize counties to reduce recidivism and incarceration.
  • Sentencing Reforms. Enact statewide front-end sentencing reforms to help counties implement realignment.
  • Pretrial Detention Reform. Amend statewide pretrial detention laws and implement new local pretrial release policies to keep behind bars only those who truly pose a risk to public safety.
  • Alternatives to Incarceration. Create and fund concrete plans to develop community- based alternatives to detention for both the pretrial and sentenced population.
  • Utilize New Sentencing Options. Encourage local courts to utilize realignment’s new sentencing options that authorize judges to replace all or part of a jail sentence with community sanctions or treatment programs.
  • Stop Jail Expansion. Halt or significantly reduce jail expansion and construction plans, including AB 900 funding and projects.
  • Limit Use of Immigration Detainers. Review the impact of immigration status and immigration detainers on inmates’ detention to prioritize public safety needs.

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