There continue to be two schools of thought for Realignment and Realignment funding: more jails and police or more funding for alternative programs. In San Francisco the District Attorney applied $91,000 of realignment funding to the latter.

That money went to the salary of a former convict and gang member who successfully reformed his ways. A man who once served multiple stints in jail for crimes ranging from battery and theft to drunk in public now helps non-violent, non-sexual offenders avoid jail and received treatment. His work, so far having counseled about 100 offenders, looks at a holistic case that includes a history of crimes and attempted rehabilitation, drug problems, family situation, and other environmental factors. He then produces a package to present to the prosecutor and advocate for a specific remedy for a specific offender.

In one case, he argued that a woman should spend 1 year in jail instead of the maximum 5 years. Once her jail term had expired, she’d then go to a two-year, women-only, inpatient drug treatment center. He realized that drugs and manipulative men had impeded her previous attempts to rehabilitate.

It’s a new role and approach for prosecutorial offices that not everyone approves of. Many in law enforcement and criminal prosecution see jails not only as a place for potential rehabilitation, but as an important part of punishment too. The link between a crime and a consequence is no better displayed by locks and bars. However, Realignment was intended to foster creativity and experimenting in the lower-risk population of criminals.

Read the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle.