As the ripple effect of the Governor’s realignment plan begin being felt in California, eyes from around the country have turned to our state to see how the prison shift is working out. Many are also facing overcrowding it their state institutions.
But the reviews of the program are mixed, with the stories of how realignment has gone wrong often receiving far more attention than the thousands of stories where it has gone right.
For instance, not everyone has the same definition of a low-level offender. When a drunk driver killed a fire fighter and then served less than a day in jail before being sent to a “virtual jail,” the community outcry was furious. That woman is now being tracked via an ankle bracelet. In another case a man was released from jail only to go to try to kill his girlfriend.
But the state has reduced its prison population by 16 percent in the months since the realignment policy took hold. And now more money is being spent on virtual prisons and rehabilitation than before. In California, the virtual prison population has expanded to nearly a million “outmates.”
From the Wall Street Journal:
Under a court order to ease overcrowding in state prisons, California moved last year to divert thousands of lower-level offenders to local jails. Now the fallout from that shift is reverberating through several sections of the state, including this area north of Los Angeles.
In Kern County, Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s jail was so near capacity this spring that he had to release hundreds of inmates—monitoring them with electronic devices or assigning them to do supervised labor such as working as janitors.
Read the full article here.