Prison realignment in California has come a long way since its conception back in 2011, and for the most part, things are moving in the right direction for the state's local and county jails. The legislation has certainly been a major source of controversy, moving non-violent convicted felons from state prisons to more regional correctional facilities and probation departments, but recent statistics suggest that California has indeed made forward progress. Still, realignment has a ways to go before it realizes its primary objectives of cost savings, improved prison management and community safety.
I remain steadfast in my belief that to maximize the positive potential inherent to AB 109's mandates, facilities at the local and county levels need to revamp their technological footprints to account for the increasing volume and complexity they face with this influx of offenders. Only once these organizations have the IT capacity to keep up with this heightened demand will they bring about a brighter future.
Making an Impact
While California's criminal justice system is far from optimal in terms of performance and efficacy, realignment has not been the burden that many have made it out to be. In fact, according to Santa Maria, California news provider KEYT, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors was recently given an uplifting progress report on the strides made
by AB 109. The source noted seven out of every 10 state prison offenders released back into the community stay crime-free - a major improvement from the 70 percent recidivism rate that plagued the state prior to realignment.
"We have a 30 percent recidivism rate, now that is preliminary, but after three years of providing services to these offenders, I would say that that's pretty good", Santa Barbara County Chief Probation Officer Beverly Taylor told the source. "Through our evaluation with UCSB, we are finding that our programs, our enhanced supervision, our collaborative efforts are having an impact on this population."
Room for Improvement
Of course, California's local and county jails still face their fair share of problems as AB 109 continues to send ripples through the criminal justice system. For example, probation programs are not prepared for the heavy populations saturating databases, and supervision becomes a challenge when parole officers are spread so thin. These institutions must employ dedicated tracking software such as Tribridge's Offender360
solution to ensure that recidivism rates continue to decrease and officials are given reasonable workloads.