Felons Cooperate With New Realignment, Skip Out on Parole Less

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Heeding a directive from the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce its overcrowded prison population quickly, California has shifted 38,000 felons from state to local control and one result has been fewer felons skipping out on parole.  

A report by the Chief Probation Officers of California found that the 58 counties are reporting just a 4% rate of failure-to-report by parolees compared to 14% under the previous system.

Around 23,000 of the prisoners transferred to local lockups are being supervised by local, rather than state, probation departments as “Post Release Community Supervision” (PRCS) offenders. The other 15,000 transferred prisoners are behind bars in local jails. Fears that local jurisdictions would not be able to supervise this many new parolees have, so far, been unrealized, the report said.

The so-called “realignment” was enacted through Assembly bills AB 109 and AB 117 and.accompanied by a state law that ex-convicts could be released from supervision after six months if they toe the line, compared to a year under the previous law. “We've hung out a pretty good carrot there” for offenders to behave, said Marin County Chief Probation Officer Michael Daly, whose committee produced the report.

The state is monitoring the prisoner transfer to see if there are changes in recidivism, the crime rate in general and parolee behavior. The data is being tracked in quarterly reports.

The quick shift caused a spike in many county facilities and resulted in some new policies of early release.

The state prison population has dropped below 140,000 for the first time since 1996. The shift didn’t turn out exactly as had been anticipated. Counties in California’s central region received 8% more offenders than had been anticipated, while the Bay Area and Sacramento received 5% less.

Probation is a critical factor in the criminal justice system. Around 70% of sentences include some form of probation. The amount of felony probation grants has declined 20% during the first six months of realignment.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Counties Report Fewer Fugitive Felons (by Don Thompson, Associated Press)

“Realignment” Has Shifted 38,000 Felons to Local Control (by Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee)

Realignment Perspective (Chief Probation Officers of California) (pdf)

California Realignment Dashboard (Chief Probation Officers of California)

Prisoners Shifting to Local Jails with Incentives to Not Rehabilitate Them (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

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