Transcript: Part I of the Public Policy Institute of California panel on the effects of the public safety realignment – June 28, 2013

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

David Lesher, Director of Government Affairs at PPIC:
…The question is: Is Realignment working in California?

Adam Christianson, Sheriff of Stanislaus County and Vice President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association:
…It’s probably no secret that I wasn’t one of the biggest fans of Realignment and testified as an intervenor and was very concerned about the safety of the community and quality of life issues and a variety of things associated with this.

But that being said, we own it, it’s here. And I think that collectively as leaders throughout the state, our communities, our counties, we have an obligation to come together and do our best to make this work.

To answer the question, too soon to tell. I think that all of this is very much like trying to drink from a fire hose. It came very quickly very fast. There’s a lot of moving parts.

But I do believe that we have the ability to make this work but it’s based upon collaboration, communication, partnerships, adequate sustainable funding, adequate local facilities. And it’s not just jail beds. I want to make that clear. We’re not building jail beds locally for the purposes of incarceration.

We’re very fortunate in Stanislaus County. We’re building beds under AB 900 but it includes programming space, a 72-bed medical mental health care unit, a 14,000 square foot day reporting center where we can invite our community-based organizations to partner with us in an effort to provide educational, vocational, and rehabilitative opportunities.

Am I still concerned about safety of the community? Yes, I am.

Do we have the opportunity to try to make this work? Yes, we do.

Do we have a lot of work left to do? Yes, we do.

David Lesher, Director of Government Affairs at PPIC:
Matt…what do we know – what’s working, what’s not working?

Matthew Cate, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties and former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation:
Well, it’s a lot easier to run a prison system now than it used to be. [Laughter] I’d say that for sure. And that’s no small thing.

And even in my new chair, I look at the prison system obviously with a great deal of concern because it’s – you know, something I used to tell the sheriffs and the chiefs, “It’s our prison system and it has to work for all Californians.”

And it was broken and part of the reason it was broken it was horribly overcrowded.

And so you could know that offender A needed to be in a drug treatment in order not to re-offend next time and you could know there is a great one in this prison over here in northern California, but if there’s no bed, there’s no bed. And so that prisoner sits in southern California gets no treatment and comes out and does the same thing over and over again. And that was a cycle, I think, that was bad for us.

So while, you know, the courts…and we disagree about whether it’s been enough, it certainly is much better than it was before.

The reason I say that is I think the ultimate answer to the question is Realignment is working in some areas, in some places better than others.

And so, prison and parole, I think we have a much more healthy prison and parole system than we ever had. So set that aside.

Counties is a mixed bag, right? And so in places that we’re dealing with crowding problems before Realignment…it’s a problem. And until jails get built, until the chiefs are able to build up capacity for both in terms of the number of officers they have supervising people and the number of programs that they’re able to put these folks in for rehabilitation, it’s going to exacerbate problems that existed already…That’s a way of saying it’s not working in some areas.

Now, we may look at 5 years from now and say, “All right, it’s already leveling but we may get some things done in terms of construction or in terms of training and in terms of hiring that help even in these other areas.”

But you know you go to some counties, which I have in my new role, and they will tell you that they think Realignment’s not perfect but it’s actually working better than what they had before. And they really cite – those counties cite two things. Number one, the additional influx of cash in a healthy system has allowed those law enforcement leaders to do more things that they wanted to do already. And number two, it has in some places brought law enforcement leadership together for the first time in the community corrections partnerships to think jointly about common problems. So those two benefits, I think, have really helped statewide.

###

Learn More:

2 Comments on “Transcript: Part I of the Public Policy Institute of California panel on the effects of the public safety realignment – June 28, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: PPIC fellow Magnus Lofstrom's remarks on the effects of public safety realignment in California - June 28, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: 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 | What The Folly?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.