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

Part VI: Partial transcript of the Public Policy Institute of California panel on the effects of the public safety realignment in California on June 28, 2013: Matthew Cate, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties and former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation:

What I’ve learned and everything I’ve read is I can’t get two criminologists to agree with one another about what causes crime to move. I’m sure with the great minds we have in the room, we can start a probably a knock-down-drag-out on this issue.

I think the sheriff’s right; it’s complex. It’s at least everything that he just said and then some. Whether it’s related to Realignment is really difficult to say. There’s some common sense that says if there’s more people on the street than there used to be and Chief Penner and her colleagues aren’t turning them all to full employment and taxpayers, then you’re going to see some additional crimes especially in property crime issues, because those are the folks that are getting kicked early.

But be careful about that. The week before Realignment, I went and visited then-Mayor [Antonio] Villaraigosa and Chief [Charlie] Beck was there. And I was waiting and they were having a conversation about the Chief’s report, and the Chief said, “Mr. Mayor, I’m concerned because…our arrests went up 100 last week and I don’t know why.” And this is about 6 days before the first day of Realignment. I thought to myself, “Oh no, crime is going to go up right before Realignment and everyone’s going to blame Realignment.”

Well, if you look across the country, crime is up across the country, and no one knows why…That’s a huge variable that you have to kind of wrestle with and try to figure out.

I was also surprised as I was cramming for this…from September 2011 to September 2012, there was about 2,500 more releases – general releases – year to year. That’s nothing. I was surprised that number was so low. The prisons – we released 10,000 a month before this started… So I assume there’s some connection but measuring that is really difficult.

The last thing I’ll say about this is this: If we don’t start pulling people out of this system completely, ultimately it’s not going to work. So the sheriff’s doing his part…And the prison system has to do their part in terms of when you’re actually in prison, you got to get that rehabilitation started, risk assessments, start figuring out criminogenic needs, start getting people prepared to get out. And Chief Penner and her colleagues have got to be able to get that hand-off, and those first 90 days, they’ve got to hit that hard. Enforcement, rehabilitation – the first 90 to 180 days is the whole ball game. And so if we don’t start pulling people out of this cycle of crime, then it doesn’t matter really how many – if they spend 50 days or 90 days or whatever. All that’s going to be is just a waste of time and money. We’ve got to start reducing recidivism. We’ve got to start helping people turn around.

Adam Christianson, Sheriff of Stanislaus County and Vice President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association:

And let us not forget, we’re reactionary to all of this right now. We’re trying to make it work. We cannot lose sight of our focus on early intervention, prevention and education. You want to try to stop what’s happening, that’s where you have to stop it with young people who get in the system in the first place because they don’t have good role models and mentors at home, they find themselves involved in…addictive substances primarily, you know, it starts with alcohol and marijuana before you graduate to other forms of addiction. So we’ve got to stay focused on our young people and the programs available to them to keep them focused on education as opposed to a life of gangs and methamphetamine.

Linda Penner, Chief Probation Officer, Fresno County Probation Department, and Executive Director of the Board of State and Community Corrections: …I’m going to confound you more. In Fresno County, our police chief reported that crime is down across-the-board except for aggravated assaults. Now, he didn’t necessarily want to do that because first he was in budget hearings and he would have liked to have said, “Oh dear God, money!” But he did say that, and it is down as much as 10% in particular categories. And he attributed the aggravated assaults to assaults in the jail. So interestingly enough, I think what you’d see is a reduction in crime… …

We realigned three-quarters of the juvenile justice population back to the locals 3 or 4 years ago. Now, what we’re seeing is juvenile crime is routinely continued to go down. I’m really hopeful that we’re going to see that. Now, can you attribute that to juvenile realignment? No, I’m not sure we have the data points to do that. It’s a very global large look at the picture. But when we talk about data and we talk about whomever it is that’s reading the data or using the data, our police chief also indicated that…maybe crime rates are down in Fresno because we opened three floors of a jail and our releases are down. And so there are so many variables that it’s impossible to extrapolate from that a meaningful statewide picture. Now, we’re going to do that – the BSCC is going to attempt to be able to capture data points that speak to everybody…It is an enormous job. And beyond that, we have to bring the stakeholders together that are going to be able to sit in a room and say, “I can live with that. I can live with this. These are data points I could tolerate.”

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One Comment on “Transcript: Part VI 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?!

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