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

Part III: 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:
…I want to ask about the state’s role in Realignment. Obviously, Proposition 30 locked in funding for Realignment. So there’s obviously a funding responsibility. I think the broader questions are about whether the state should monitor what’s happening, should there be an expectation about some of kind of level of performance, or what should the state’s role be in something that’s happening so much in the local level…

Linda Penner, Chief Probation Officer, Fresno County Probation Department, and Executive Director of the Board of State and Community Corrections:
…Let me start by saying this: I think the BSCC has an enormous job ahead of them. I think that data collection and the various disciplines coming together and being able to roll out a meaningful system that measures outcomes and reflects cost-saving analysis and does the many many things that we look to data to do. It’s important and imperative.

On the other side of the coin, I’m still a local and I’ll be a local until, you know, close to September when I come to work. So, as a local, what I choose to tell you is that the locals took on the workload and they are doing the job. And so do we want to be legislated and mandated by the state for an obligation that we took on. I think there will be some push-back to that. So the BSCC’s job – the challenge – is going to be is allowing the locals to come together and move towards the outcome we want with data and being able to measure what’s going on and have a meaningful number of data points that tell us something about Realignment.

The concern is always by the locals is that the state’s going to give us the obligation and come back and tell us or craft the way that we need to get that obligation done. So that is a serious – serious coming together that has to begin as we roll out how we’re going to accomplish that enormous mission.

With that said, Realignment has created that environment, I think, that was referenced earlier by Matt which is the CCPs has come together, and the CCPs in all 58 counties have crafted – they’re the justice experts in their communities and they’ve crafted plans. And in the near future, you’re going to see that report on all of those plans come to you, and I think what your’e going to see is counties have put forth an incredible effort to provide alternatives to incarceration and evidence-based practices and assessments and have demonstrated their ability to take very big job, bring it down to the local level, where we are nimble and able to change and craft our own destinies there, and do that with the reality in mind that we cannot incarcerate ourselves out of this mess. And I really feel an obligation to say that because that’s where the work came. I like the way the panel was made up because at the end of the day, it’s the CAOs, the Board of Supervisors, the sheriffs, the probation departments, and the other stakeholders that are shouldering this.

Do we have to be accountable in terms of our data and our outcomes? Absolutely. But it will have to be a partnership. It cannot be something that the locals are in the receiving position on.

David Lesher, Director of Government Affairs at PPIC:
…What should the state do going forward?

CA Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee:
I agree with that. I think as a state, we’re interested in outcomes and there will be counties that do a great job, some counties that may continue to fail. What we need, really, is accurate, usable information so that we know how counties are doing and we can help the counties that need help with some of the best practices that have actually decreased the jail population in some of our counties even with Realignment.

…What the state needs is accurate, user-friendly information with definitions that are apples and apples, not apples and oranges, so that we can really see how it’s coming.

And the other thing I think – I see as the state’s role is incentives. Linda mentioned SB 678. We were able to realign that with Realignment in the state budget so that we’re going to make it applicable also to counties as they work with their realigned populations, which means if you have success you get half the savings essentially.

And we also were able to fund in the budget a pilot program in three counties – it’s going to be San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and LA – to have felons come back from state prison 90 days in advance so they really can be hooked up to all the benefits that can help them succeed – jobs, housing, and some of the other things. If that works, hopefully, it will be something that other counties can use.

I’d like to see financial incentives too because I’d bet you in Stanislaus County, there’s going to be something, in Fresno County, and one size doesn’t fit all; we know that.

So I think our role should be looking for results…

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