At a September 29, 2011 press conference, days before Governor Jerry Brown's massive Realignment plan took effect, he said, "the Realignment plan has been thought through. It's not trouble-free. There'll be bumps along the road, but from everything I can tell, this is a viable plan that, as we work together, will not only ensure public safety but will fix a prison system that has been profoundly dysfunctional for decades." In adopting AB109, which transferred the responsibility for tens of thousands of felons from the state to counties, the Governor promised that the prison inmate population would be reduced to comply with a federal court order, that some of the projected savings in state incarceration costs would be shared with counties to help rehabilitate criminals and that public safety would be preserved.
According to the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, now after nearly three years since the law took effect, it is clear that none of these promises have been kept.
A June 21, 2014 Los Angeles Times story by Paige St. John reports that after an initial drop in inmate population when Realignment took effect, the trend has reversed and is now nearly 20,000 inmates higher than projected. State prison costs did not go down as projected, but increased by $2 billion in 2013 and may increase by $3 billion in 2015.
Crime has also increased under Realignment. Comparing FBI reports on crime in California's largest cities from January to June 2011, before Realignment took effect, to the same period in 2013, after two years of Realignment, the number of cities reporting increases in violent crime jumped by 60%, while cities reporting increases in property crime rose by 55.5%. "There have been hundreds of additional violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault under the Governor's plan and thousands more property crimes such as auto theft, identity theft, and burglary," said Foundation President Michael Rushford. "A study released by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute last December estimated that in its first year, Realignment accounted for an additional 24,000 motor vehicle thefts."
"The Governor said recently that given more time Realignment will work. But every day that we wait, time runs out for victims like Lisa Gilvary, a 46-year-old Fresno mom who was stabbed to death in 2012 by a habitual criminal released from prison to light supervision under this law. How long can we justify this carnage while we watch all the trends going the wrong way?" said Rushford.
CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.