After a thorough study, the Stanford Criminal Justice Center has issued a series of recommendations aimed at relieving the burden placed on counties as a result of the state’s prison realignment program.As part of the study, released on Friday, researchers interviewed 125 local police officials, sheriffs, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and probation officers.
The study was conducted at a cost of $200,000 and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Among the recommendations is a 3-year cap on county jail sentences, with high-risk offenders being supervised by state parole agents, rather than county probation, following release.
The researchers also recommended that repeated parole violators be sent to state prisons rather than county jails where they are often immediately released due to overcrowding.The recommendations largely contradict federal judges’ demands to reduce overcrowding of state prisons.
Nevertheless, the researchers say it is a necessary move."This happened too fast, the infrastructure was not ready, and we went too far. We need to pull back a little bit," said Stanford Law School professor and Stanford Criminal Justice Center co-director Joan Petersilia.
Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, concurs and says his organization will gear up with other law enforcement officials to see that the report's recommendations are implemented into state law.
So far, the state’s realignment law has helped reduce the state’s inmate population by more than 25,000. But the state must still comply with federal judges’ demands to reduce the population by another 9,600 by the end of the year. Governor Jerry Brown is requesting an additional three years to determine how to shift some 4,400 inmates out of the system. The state has already secured plans to transfer 5,200 of them to private prisons in California, as well as a new prison medical facility in Stockton and some fire camps.