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

Chief Penner, I have a question for you. It was one of your PRCS offenders who brutally murdered my mom and a Fresno police officer. I just would like to know what is the criteria that’s used to classify low-level offenders under Realignment.

Linda Penner, Chief Probation Officer, Fresno County Probation Department, and Executive Director of the Board of State and Community Corrections:
Well, first let me say it’s heart-wrenching and my heart goes out to you. I’m not happy that these sorts of things happen. I think they have occurred across the state and in instances that none of us are happy with. Public safety is all of our first concern, and there are going to be issues that surround this population and populations that are not under any kind of supervision – parole or probation – and our felony probation cases that are going to end up in tragic victimization. So let me start with that.

In terms of…how an individual is classified, the legislation itself calls for a non-non-non – non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders to come to the local authorities to supervise. And what we do know – and I suspect what you’re inquiring about is – some of them have serious, violent, and sex in their past history, and it is the instant offense that guides the individual to post-release community supervision.

…In our community, one of the groups of people that feel kind of left out of the process that we find is our local police chiefs. Some of them feel that they haven’t been engaged with the county and with the sheriffs in terms of sharing information and allocation of funding back to the local level to help them deal with the additional focus on the street. Can you address that?

Adam Christianson, Sheriff of Stanislaus County and Vice President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association:
I think that goes back to the relationship that you have with your chiefs and the relationship that you have amongst your CCP partners.

…Frankly, I think it’s up to the sheriff and the CCPs to make sure the chiefs are included. We do allocate funding to the chiefs – primarily overtime costs – so we can go out and do compliance checks, check on people and knock on their doors and make sure they’re doing okay. So it does vary from county to county. We’ve made a commitment to include our chiefs in this process, how it affects them…And we work collaboratively to make sure that we’re meeting the public’s demand for our services, because we all know that the bad guys don’t necessarily respect jurisdictional boundaries and what happens in an unincorporated area in the county can certainly happen in the city and vice versa.

Matthew Cate, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties and former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation:
I think the sheriff’s right. A lot of time it’s just personality and you got to show up and you got to engage with one another. I think the legislature provided $25 million last year to the police chiefs alone – just for them – on these issues. And part of the problem is that sheriffs can say, “I got x number of offenders filling x number of my beds” and the chiefs can say, “I’ve got x number of offenders that I have to supervise” and those require hard dollars. The DA and the public defender can quantify the number of cases they now have to deal with. The difficulty with policing is that you’re on the streets doing the same jobs so it’s much more difficult to quantify and argue for exactly how much impact it is. And so my hope is that as the sheriffs and the county folks who have kind have that quantified as those needs get met, then through partnerships you can see greater funding down the road. But I think that’s why it’s a little bit of a harder sell.

…I keep hearing people talk about funding. What I’d like to know is the precise source of the funding? Is the state going to kick in to all of these additional costs? Or are the counties supposed to come up with the additional costs for supervision such as say in probation?

CA Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee:
Well, the money basically was diverted from the prison system, from the state general fund, to counties. It’s been an ongoing discussion of how the formulas distribute the money to the counties…but basically do the counties who were dependent on the state by sending almost they possibly could to state prison and therefore shifting their costs to the state, would those counties get a larger reimbursement because they would have more people coming back than the counties who have shifted many people into alternatives to incarceration and rehabilitation, haven’t sent so many people but were funding on their own county dime already those alternatives to incarceration? So we’ve had different formulas going back and forth. We’re trying different ones to try to get a formula that works.

In each county, how they spend the money they’re allocated from the state is up to what they’re calling the community corrections partnership, which is made up of the chief probation officer who chairs it, the sheriff, the DA, the court administrator, a police chief representing the police chiefs in that county, and someone from the public health department in that county. They look at the money that’s on the table and I’m going to say they often divide it up and it can turn into little turf silos of who’s going to get the money.

Contra Costa County, one of the counties I represent, did what I think was quite an extraordinary thing. They said, “Let’s take our Realignment plan – our re-entry plan – talk about how to do the things in that plan and then talk about which department or agency in the county is best suited to do that work.” It seem to work out pretty well but it took them a while to get there…

So the answer is state money given out to counties by a formula, divided up within the counties for a mix of services on the basis of the locals.


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