Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Web Resources: Joan Petersilia Explains California’s Realignment Policy

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I have lamented many times on this blog that the media has not been entirely accurate in its reporting on California’s “realignment” policy that went into effect in October 2011 (e.g. here and here). Luckily, there is no reason to be misinformed about realignment anymore because expert criminologist Joan Petersilia, who probably knows more about California parole and reentry than anyone and has advised California governors on criminal justice policy, has recently given an interview the Berkeley Law “Criminal Justice Conversations” podcast series. Listen here!

Unfortunately, and as evidenced by the numerous comments that keep streaming in on an earlier post I did on realignment, there seems to be widespread confusion not just in the media, but also on the ground about how realignment is being interpreted and applied in particular counties. Perhaps this is because the state and/or the counties are not doing a good job of communicating the policy to the public, or because the policy itself has some gaps, or simply isn’t working well (or isn’t working as well everywhere), or… etc. Whatever the reason for the confusion, this makes it all the more problematic that, as Petersilia notes in the podcast, the realignment bill did not set aside funds for evaluating its implementation:

You know it’s so disheartening, I can hardly voice it to you, to be honest with you. It goes against every other trend in every other state, and as you said, at the federal government, but it also goes against California’s recent history. Every other major initiative in modern history in California has had a set-aside, that if you’re going to spend all of this money to do things differently, somebody should be accountable and report back to the legislature about how well it worked. Realignment, we’re investing much more then any of these previous initiatives, and yet isn’t it rather odd that we didn’t set aside any money for evaluation?

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  1. There still seems to be no justice for the inequities that realignment present to a person who was released on parole before Oct 1, 2011. They remain under state parole jurisdiction, are summarily denied county transfers, are not eligible for ‘shock’ (short term incarceration) and apparently are not going to be able to discharge from parole after 12 months if they have no violations, the early termination of their parole will still be subject to the whim of parole and BPH. I am amazed that no one talks about this, we are talking about offenders with similar sentences, and a similar criminal history being treated completely differently. And if you are on state parole, you don’t dare complain because no matter how bad things are, your agent has 100% permission to make your life even more miserable.

    Kiraj

    March 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm


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