AB 109, also known as prisoner realignment, is California’s solution for reducing the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons to 137.5 percent design capacity by May 24, 2013, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. In short, in 2011 the state began the process of transferring responsibility of many state-supervised probationers back to counties.
States nationwide are watching how this controversial move will work to reduce California’s correctional costs and get within capacity of the current prison system. Some counties have embraced solutions that help manage the influx of nonviolent, non-sex-offender inmates and probationers being returned to their supervision; others have balked at the move, wondering if state funding will exist in the future to manage these probationers.
In May, the California State Sheriff’s Association voted to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative proposal after receiving a guarantee that it would help county law-enforcement agencies pay for increased responsibilities for confining and monitoring convicts. This endorsement is a big help for the governor as he seeks county support in defending AB 109.
In addition to assuming responsibility for having inmates transferred to county jails, county probation agencies have taken over supervision of recently released inmates who normally would have been assigned to state parole. As a result, many counties are now managing probationers sentenced under alternatives to incarceration such as GPS monitoring, rehabilitation programs and home confinement. BI Incorporated has been instrumental in assisting many counties to establish programs that include alternatives to detention.
Gov. Brown is trying to raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter-cent over five years and raise income taxes slightly for seven years to raise up to $9 billion to direct funds to prisoner realignment effort and public schools.