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David Griffith

David Griffith

David Griffith has been editor of POLICE Magazine since December 2001. He brings more than 25 years of experience on magazines and newspapers to POLICE. A Maggie award-winning journalist, his byline has appeared on hundreds of articles in POLICE and other national magazines.



Melanie Basich

Melanie Basich

Managing Editor Melanie Basich joined POLICE Magazine in 2000 (when her last name was still Hamilton). An award-winning journalist, she has covered such topics as agency budgets, officer suicide, emerging law enforcement technologies, and active shooter tactics. She writes and manages the product section of POLICE.
Editor's Notes

California's 'Realignment' Toward Higher Crime

Due to overcrowded county jails, state inmates will likely end up on the streets where patrol deputies and officers must deal with them.

October 21, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: abardwell.
Photo: abardwell.

To soften the blow to local law enforcement and communities, California politicians are calling one of the largest criminal-justice shifts in state history a "realignment."

Sadly, it appears the state's politicians are realigning California toward higher crime, potentially reversing years of declining violent crime.

Under a directive by the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) must identify 37,000 state prisoners to be sent back to counties. State officials are saying publicly that these individuals will be sent back to county jails. Realistically, they will likely end up walking the streets.

"They keep telling us they'll end up in county jails," Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, tells POLICE Magazine. "What they don't tell you is the majority of the jails in the state are at, over or near capacity. They're not going to stay in jail. That's a lie put out to make the public feel comfortable."

This shift, which began earlier this month, was the result of a federal judge's ruling that California prisons are overcrowded, causing inmates to live in conditions that violated their civil rights. As a result, state lawmakers developed AB 109, formally known as Criminal Justice Alignment. Gov. Brown signed the bill into law in April.

This month, the state began screening a pool of 50,000 to identify all "non-violent, non-sexual, and non-serious" inmates that would be moved out of state prisons. The bill also puts supervision of those inmates with county probation departments rather than the state parole office.

The state's law enforcement leaders say they're concerned the CDCR will classify inmates for release based on their most recent conviction.

"They are supposed to look at their entire record," Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), tells POLICE Magazine. "This is where some problems occurred in the past, before realignment."

Local law enforcement agencies bracing for this shift have begun taking action. Los Angeles County is expected to receive about 6,000 prisoners, the most of any county in the state.

Bracing for these inmates, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck pulled 150 officers from patrol duties to deal with the fallout. Chief Beck expects a 3 percent increase in serious crimes as a result of the plan.

These officers will be assessing each inmate to determine the risk to the community, make contact with the individual, and monitor areas where they live for possible crime trends based on their track record.

Other provisions of AB109 include redefining sentencing guidelines to shift two dozen offenses to local control that would still be considered serious or violent such as involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest, participating in a lynching, possession of weapons of mass destruction, possessing explosives, threatening a witness or juror, and using arson or explosives to terrorize a health facility or church, reports the Associated Press.

By implementing this shift, California also shifts costs to county sheriffs. The move saves the state $18,000 per inmate. The state is providing $24,000 in funding for each returned prisoner; it costs the state $42,000 a year to house a prisoner.

Tags: Corrections, LAPD, California Corrections


Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Darren A Eshuis @ 10/24/2011 12:41 PM

The first paragraph says it all...!

Gary Brennan @ 10/24/2011 6:36 PM

Obviously it was not a typo in the first paragraph. It works with either word.

Tom Ret @ 10/24/2011 6:52 PM

Just a thought-maybe the judge should be more concerned about the civil rights of law abiding citizens than the scum bags that are going to be released on society.

Bob@Az. @ 10/24/2011 7:03 PM

Gee, "violated their civil rights"? I wonder if the prosecutor brought that up at their trails? Oh yeah, the victems don't have rights it seems. At least in Ca.

Morning Eagle @ 10/25/2011 1:29 AM

Civil rights? Guess I have been around too long but it seems to me they abrogated most of their civil rights when they made the choice to commit the crime(s) that got them put in prison in the first place. The courts’ bleeding heart stupidity in directing this "realignment" will exact a steep price from the people of California as more become victims of these societal predators. Chief Beck will be fortunate if he only sees a three percent increase in crime.

Rick @ 10/25/2011 8:36 AM

I'm a former Federal LEO, currently in the security industry and reside in CA. Property Crime has risen over the last several years and violent crime is now rising. Instead of building more prisons, Californians have been using stimulus money to make roads/intersections more beautiful to look at. Instead of allowing more liberal CCW laws and open carry that are proven to protect citizens and reduce crime, Jerry Brown just banned open carry of UNLOADED weapons; CCW continues to be on a as needed basis by having your life threatened or by knowing someone in a Sheriff's or Police Department. Instead of utilitzing existing laws on criminal like Virginia and Texas did with Project Exhile, the liberals are cracking down on law abiding citizens. Quite hypocritical when one considers that Feinstein and Boxes have CCW's for CA.

NWO @ 10/26/2011 11:07 AM

And as always ...the silent majority is silent again ...How long do we have to put up with this BS from politicians?...and letting the ugly minority dictate the rules we have to follow?...and cuddle with these damn criminals at the expense of law abiding folks ?

MartyB @ 10/27/2011 3:19 PM

The 1st time one of these "3-NONS", (Look at the definition if you want a good cry and nightmares), kills, rapes/molests a politician or media mogul, their child, spouse, life-partner, or poodle there will be a "Hue & Cry" to stop this stupidity.

But, if the same thing happens to you or I... well that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

A guy that had did 6 of his 20 years for a murder in Florida, then gets arrested and does time in California for possession of a fire arm by a convicted felon, then does a nother stretch in California for beating on his wife/girlfriend got released to Kern County as a "3-NON"

Scary enough for you?

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