Part VII: Partial transcript of the Public Policy Institute of California panel on the effects of the public safety realignment in California on June 28, 2013

Part VII: Partial transcript of the Public Policy Institute of California panel on the effects of the public safety realignment in California on June 28, 2013:

CA Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee:
Well, you look at some of the data that I see – and I think we’re all probably looking at more or less the same thing – crime is still down to a 40-year low in California. It’s had a little uptick recently. The statistics show…that it’s property crime. One of my police chiefs has told me he thinks it’s metal theft and that’s a big thing and I think it is in the foothill counties as well…

But still, we’re at a 40-year low. This is why we need data because otherwise we’re deconstructing anecdotal evidence all the time and it leads to opportunities to erode the basis for Realignment…

…Rehabilitation is expensive too…And it’s my hope that at some point with Realignment, we will identify these places where a kid goes wrong and we will intervene then for less money, fewer victims, and less costs down the road…

…What if most counties adopt risk assessments, for example, in managing their jail population so they have the information about who, if they’re under a court cap, they might need to let out early? And what if there are a few outlier counties that don’t and won’t and want to attribute everything that goes wrong in the county to Realignment? At some point do you think it would be merited, for example, for the legislature to say that early releases should be based on a validated risk assessment?

Adam Christianson, Sheriff of Stanislaus County and Vice President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association:
Again, can’t speak for other counties and what they’re doing, although our relationship through the state’s sheriffs association is very good and we share information all the time.

Stanislaus County, our partnership with probation we use the Ohio-based risk assessment tool. We do employ risk assessment in our classification process and we employ that risk assessment in who we determine gets diverted to the programs versus alternatives to incarceration versus probation supervision.

So again there’s actually a number of very…well-qualified, experienced, well-trained staff members who’d sit down and actually do work with people to determine best outcomes because that’s what we’re looking for.

You know, as the sheriff, my concern about the accelerated releases that we’re forced to make? Oh yeah because I don’t want bad things to happen in my community…

Matthew Cate, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties and former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation:
…What I’ve seen as I’ve gone around the state and visited various counties is that the vast majority are headed that direction anyway in terms of using risk assessment.

I think the probation chiefs have made tremendous strides in the last few years, and I don’t know if there’s any left that aren’t using risk assessment. I think every one of them are. And the sheriffs are moving in that direction very rapidly. So my first caution would be let’s make sure we give it enough time.

And then my second would be to take on what the Senator said about the legislature’s role to provide incentives. I know there are some sheriffs who would love to get a validated risk assessment system if they could afford it. Representing the elected supervisors, I know that the first words we teach them are, “Unfunded mandate.” [Laughter] So they’re immediately give a scream if you say, “You must – ” because they’re going to say, “Well, where’s the money for that?” and maybe rightfully so. But if you say, “You may – and if you do you get this extra lollipop of funding” then you may see those sheriffs who would like to do this but feel constrained because their boards can’t afford it or whatever, we may see those last ones coming on board.

I’ve been very heartened by the awareness and sophistication and the earnestness of the local law enforcement officials to adopt this practice and to move in these directions on their own…

Linda Penner, Chief Probation Officer, Fresno County Probation Department, and Executive Director of the Board of State and Community Corrections:
…We’re probation. We’ve been in the data game for a very, very long time, and we’ve been in the assessment game for a very, very long time.

We reckon with the fact that that is a proven practice, that’s the way to do business, and we’re doing it that way.

I’m a big believer in incentivizing rather than using the stick, frankly. I think that counties ultimately want to do the right thing, and if we incentivize, I think we’ll do much better as we try to move this sea change forward…

…It is prudent to do what the administration is doing now which is to let all of this – synthesize it in a way that we can make great decisions that are well-thought out, that make a difference instead of acting, reacting too quickly to minutia that does not serve the state well.

CA Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee:
I appreciate the dialogue because I think it’s true to the extent that it’s perceived that there are obvious things that everybody agrees to, like risk assessment, split sentencing…that are not being chosen.

And in all due respect, I have to say I’m all for incentives. I want us to get additional incentives written in in various ways. But there was a pile of money given to counties to do them. So the question would be why did some counties choose to do risk assessments and others couldn’t figure out how to do it when there are many models of validated risk assessments out there. So that’s when it’s going to start coming back to the state…

And let me just say about the CCPs, having participated in several of them in the counties I represent and also heard a lot about them from other members. They are the key to this whole thing. And one of the things we’re finding is a cultural anomaly that the law puts the chief probation officer in charge of the committee…they have often been used to deferring to sheriffs and DAs who are elected and they are not. And the sheriffs and DAs have been really wanting most of the money and in many many counties, they are getting the bulk of the money and there isn’t money going to the alternatives, to rehabilitation, to risk assessment and jail management, the other things…


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