Realignment in California: Policy and Research Implications

By Owen, Barbara; Mobley, Alan | Western Criminology Review, August 2012 | Go to article overview

Realignment in California: Policy and Research Implications


Owen, Barbara, Mobley, Alan, Western Criminology Review


Keywords: California criminal justice policy, mass incarceration, prison reform, realignment

INTRODUCTION

Corrections policy in California is undergoing an historic shiftin response to a variety of pressures-budgetary, operational and judicial. In April, 2011, the California legislature passed the Public Safety Realignment Act (Assembly Bill 109). This law shifted responsibility for specific categories of low-level convicted felons from the behemoth California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to the 58 individual counties. Under this legislation, low-level drug and property offenders committing their crimes after October 1, 2011 will be sentenced to county facilities and programs. State prisoners in these same categories will be released to their county of commitment under a version of county probation called post-release community supervision (not state parole). This commentary will briefly outline the background of this historic legislation and detail selected consequences of the Act. A discussion of research and policy implications will follow, and an invitation to consider broader social justice concerns will conclude the essay.

This commentary will only summarize the complications of the Act and its implementation. Interested readers are referred to various publications and websites for more detail and discussion. The reports, Public Safety Realignment: California at a Crossroads, by the ACLU of California (aclunc.org), and Rethinking the State-Local Relationship: Corrections by Misczynski (2011) of the Public Policy Institute of California (ppic.org) are must-reads. The CDCR website contains basic information on the Act and various statistical reports that convey some of its impact (cdcr.ca.gov). The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (cjcj.org); the Stanford Criminal Justice Center (stanford.law.org) and the Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy (warreninstitute.org) have developed several policy papers on the issue. The Partnership for Community Excellence (cafwd.org/pce) and the website for the Chief Probation Officers Organization (cpoc.org) act as repositories of documents related to Realignment. For a detailed overview of the legislation, Byers' (2011) statute review is instructive. Additionally, most counties have developed a section within their probation website to post Realignment information, including copies of their Country Plans and notice of related meetings.

BACKGROUND

Since the 1970s, the California prison system has expanded exponentially across several dimensions: population size, budget, staffing, and number of facilities. With some of the highest incarceration rates in the United States (which itself has some of the highest rates in the world), California has the dubious distinction of producing some of the highest recidivism rates as well. Overall, two-thirds of all inmates released from the CDCR returned to prison within three years, many of them for technical parole violations rather than new convictions (cdcr.ca.gov). Despite attempts at rehabilitation programs, and a name change in 2005 to highlight this new direction, recidivism rates remained high and few programs demonstrated any measurable result. At the same time, a shrinking California budget and decade-long lawsuits set the stage for significant policy change. While many observers see litigation as only one of many pressures, the lawsuit in question deserves some detail here. Following many challenges to state prison conditions of confinement in terms of medical, mental health and dental services, one lawsuit was ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court. Brown v. Plata found that overcrowding in California prisons did in fact constitute "cruel and unusual punishment."

As a consequence, the State was directed to reduce the state prison population by about one-third by May, 2013. At the time of this writing (mid-2012), CDCR has made progress toward this mandate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Realignment in California: Policy and Research Implications
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.