CURB has reviewed the realignment plans of thirteen key counties in California. We selected the following counties because they imprison the largest number of people in our state, send the largest share of people to state prison or are counties within which the majority of CURB members live and work. We originally reviewed these counties realignment plans in October, 2011. The first report card can be viewed at: http://curbprisonspending.org/?p=790. In our assessment, we looked at the balance between community-based alternatives and plans to expand jail capacity.
The second edition of the Realignment Report Card highlights the number of counties in California that are pursuing the same mistaken policies the state of California has pursued for decades: the expansion of cages. Not only are community-based alternatives more effective, they are less costly. Throughout California, counties are replicating the state’s bad policy and budget choices. Of the five counties that received “Incompletes” in our last report card, only one of them has upgraded to “Pass.” None of the Counties that Failed in our last assessment have addressed our concerns, and some have only worsened. To capture this, we divided the Fail category into two tiers. One tier of county programs, indicated in orange, are re-opening beds that were previously closed. These counties can significantly improve their realignment plans if they halt their plans to re-open the beds. The other tier of programs, indicated in red, are moving ahead with economically and socially disastrous construction of all new jail cells. These counties must develop an entirely new approach to realignment that prioritize community-based alternatives to incarceration if they are to succeed.
Like many other Californians, CURB believes that simply shifting people from State prison to County jail is a false solution to our prison and budget crisis. Realignment can most safely and effectively be implemented by using alternative sentencing and community-based reentry services instead of costly and ineffective jail expansion. Realignment should not be used as an excuse to expand policing, probation or jails. Realignment should not be used to push forward AB 900, the largest prison construction scheme in human history. AB 900 authorized $7.4 billion in lease revenue bonds for the construction or expansion of California’s prisons, jails and re-entry centers. If realignment is to be successful, it must move away from financially and socially disastrous expansion plans, and invest in supporting people returning to our communities.
What did we find?
- Counties that Pass (green): San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Alameda. These counties are focused on reducing their jail population and providing programming and alternatives to incarceration.
- Counties that Fail, but could halt plans to re-open previously closed jail beds (orange): Contra Costa, Fresno, and Sacramento. These counties have focused on expanding jail capacities and have failed at reducing their jail population and investing in re-entry support, but their plans do contain some programs that should be supported and expanded.
- Counties that Fail, and have disastrous jail construction plans (red): San Mateo, Riverside, Kern, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles. These counties are pursuing jail expansion plans that have almost no alternatives to incarceration and little support for service provision through community-based organizations. In several instances, local law enforcement authorities are pursuing expansion despite significant local opposition.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) is a broad-based coalition of over 40 organizations seeking to CURB prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in the state.
CURB Realignment Report Card – Second Edition – March 2012
To download a PDF of the Report Card: CURB Realign Report Card 2 – FINAL
San Francisco: Pass. San Francisco County received $5 million.[i] San Francisco County is leading the way in expanding alternatives to incarceration. The County realignment plan includes innovative programs such as restorative justice classes, substance abuse services, the 5 Keys Charter High School, utilizing the Clean Slate Program, employment counseling and services, and transitional housing. The County has implemented a 13-week vocational culinary program for people in the jail, and the County Sheriff is partnering with nonprofits for service provision.[ii] The County is exploring innovative support programs such as employment assistance for fathers struggling to pay child assistance, such as partnering with Community Works to offer parenting classes.[iii] The plan also includes electronic monitoring, home detention, and residential treatment beds. The County is also considering establishing a sentencing commission in hopes of reducing recidivism.[iv]
Santa Cruz: Pass. Santa Cruz County received $1.6 million.[v] When realignment began, jails were at 125 percent capacity, but the county decided to expand alternatives instead of jail space, and has since reduced its prison population by 20 percent in 6 months through work release and electronic monitoring programs.[vi] Longtime Chief Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello says, “We don’t have a choice. Either we focus on alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice programs, or we spend a lot more money locking people up. Given the competing priorities for funding, taxpayers have been pretty clear they don’t want to continue funding state prisons at current levels…The least we can do is to stop spending money on incarceration when, in many cases, it’s been shown to do more harm than good.” [vii]
Santa Clara: Pass. Santa Clara County received $12.5 million. The Santa Clara County plan calls for an almost even three-way split of the bulk of the realignment funding between the Probation Department, the Sheriff’s Department and programs like drug treatment, mental health care and job training. In January, Santa Clara Supervisors decided not to apply for AB 900 jail construction funds. The board opted not to seek the possible $100 million, largely because the county can’t afford the millions more in annual operating costs. The supervisors also said investing millions in new jail facilities at this time runs counter to the county’s commitment to expand alternatives to incarceration, such as drug rehabilitation programs and vocational training. [viii] “It’s not only a lot of money, but it’s going to literally cement … a direction that you know will be relatively irreversible for probably three decades,” concluded Supervisor Dave Cortese.[ix]
Alameda: Pass. Alameda County received $9.2 million.[x] Almost one quarter – $2.2 million – will go to community-based organizations that provide services for people coming home, such as drug and alcohol counseling, and the County’s plan includes funding for a Transition Center at Santa Rita Jail.[xi] The County is also including individualized career counseling and potentially funds for education.[xii] The Alameda County Chief Probation Officer wants to lead his department in a new direction, one that focuses on prevention. David Muhammad, an Oakland native, favors an approach that promotes incentives to good behavior, rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration. These are the kinds of methods, according to Muhammad, that get the best results – fewer people in prison and on probation and parole.[xiii]
Contra Costa: Fail. Contra Costa County received $4.5 million.[xiv] The county demonstrated clear intent to seek AB900 jail construction money, but was not invited to apply.[xv] Absent this, they expanded their jail capacity this year by reopening part of the West County Detention Center that had been shuttered for years. At least 50 percent of Contra Costa’s realignment budget has gone to the sheriff’s office for staffing and jail management. Part of this budget also includes electronic monitoring and mental health court. Twenty-two percent of the budget funds have gone to probation for supervision, with about 20 percent for health services like outpatient services and drug treatment. Contra Costa is taking a step in the right direction by pursing grants for a countywide strategic reentry plan that focuses on rehabilitation and reentry services rather than law enforcement, but their choice for costly jail expansion over population reduction measures earns them a “fail” grade.
Sacramento: Fail. Sacramento County received $13.1 million.[xvi] The County is re-opening 275 beds at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. The Sheriff’s Department is receiving the majority of the realignment money – $8.5 million – for the jail expansion, a home detention program, and a pretrial release program. The Probation Department will receive $4.2 million to run a day reporting center that will also have services, but it they will not be run by community-based organizations.[xvii] There has been significant opposition to using the majority of funds for jail expansion, but Sacramento County Sheriff Jones has pushed for control of realignment funding.[xviii] Sheriff Jones has consistently heightened public safety fears to ensure jail expansion within the County, publicly doubting the efficacy of rehab programs and making baseless statements such as: “It’s easy to see there are going to be more folks committing more crime in the community.”[xix]
Fresno: Fail. Fresno County received $8.8 million.[xx] While the Probation Department’s portion of the realignment plan calls for a commendable expanded use of evidence-based programs to deal with the re-entry population, the plan also allocates nearly 64 percent of the county’s total realignment funding to the Sheriff. Although the county decided not to apply for AB 900 Phase 2 funds to build additional jail beds, last fall the county reopened a jail floor containing 432 additional beds. The county plans to reopen another floor of the jail in April at a cost of about $4 million. [xxi] Of the county’s $255.5 million of local revenue projected for the next fiscal year, the sheriff is slated for $71.7 million, an increase of about $1.5 million from the previous year.[xxii]
San Mateo: Fail. San Mateo County received 4.2 million.[xxiii] San Mateo’s Community Corrections Plans takes several steps in the right direction by prioritizing re-entry support and services through county agencies and community-based organizations, including employment, training and work opportunities, wellness and recovery, family re-integration, housing, and other social services. However, San Mateo is also taking the lead in the opposite direction. While San Mateo was not invited to apply for phase II AB900 money, County Sheriff Greg Munks is planning to go forward with $145 to $165 million worth of jail expansion, plus annual operational costs.
Riverside: Fail. Riverside County received $21.4 million.[xxiv] They are looking at a mix of “supervision, treatment, and custody,” allocating between $4.2 and $8.4 million for mental health services through the County. Officials talk of wanting to do things “differently” from how they have been done in the past and work to help people re-integrate successfully. However, the jails are already close to capacity and under court order to not add new beds unless it is accompanied by housing. Riverside received $100 million of AB 900 Phase 2 dollars towards their $300 million facility, which would have added 1,200 inmate beds in its first phase and ultimately 5,400 beds. The jail expansion is vehemently opposed by a number of Coachella Valley residential and business groups, led by the Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention & Visitors Authority.[xxv] With an $80 million shortfall in the budget, Riverside County officials are increasingly desperate to find every source of revenue they can so last month, the County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a despicable plan to charge prisoners $142 a day for their stay, “reimbursing” the county for food, clothing and health care.[xxvi]
Kern: Fail. Kern County received $10.8 million. [xxvii] Forty-three percent of the money will go to the Sheriff’s Department, which will re-open 263 new beds at the Lerdo Minimum Detentions Facility.[xxviii] Forty percent would go to Kern County Chief Probation Officer David Kuge. While there is inclusion of employment services and community supervision programs, the expansion of jail beds is unacceptable. There is a merely symbolic allocation of $100,000 to $200,000 for contracting with community-based organizations for service provision. And that tack, critics said, is exactly what landed Californian’s prison system in the mess it’s in. Advocates say the decision sets the county up for a spectacular failure. “Without any kind of recidivism prevention, you’re going to put people back into the jail,” said Lily Alvarez of Kern County Mental Health [xxix]
San Bernardino: Fail. San Bernardino County received $25.7 million.[xxx] The county is increasing jail capacity by adding 1,368 maximum-security beds at Adelanto Detention Center under the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, funded by a combination of lease-revenue bonds made available by AB 900 and costing approximately $120 million in construction costs alone. San Bernardino’s Community Corrections Plan includes plans to open day reporting centers at three locations in the county, each with “one stop” assistance for treatment of substance abuse, health issues, and finding work, among other services. However, their jail expansion plan and the long-term impacts it will have on the county’s budget and families earns them a “fail” grade.
San Diego: Fail. San Diego County received $25.1 million and is moving forward with a costly $221.5 million dollar jail construction project to build a 1,216 bed women’s jail to “replace” the Los Colinas Detention Facility in Santee. The county received $100 million through AB 900 and is also planning to develop an extra 400 beds at the East Mesa jail, but those won’t come on line for about two years. [xxxi] [xxxii] The county is considering a range of options for its lowest-risk inmates: giving them lower bail, offering pretrial plea deals faster, and allowing some of them to be released with GPS monitoring and house arrest.[xxxiii] San Diego is working on a Community Transition Center, which would be a “one stop shop” where people could be assessed and referred to services such as drug treatment or job training.[xxxiv]
Los Angeles: Fail. Los Angeles County received $112.5 million.[xxxv] In the midst of overlapping scandals of tortuous medical neglect and frequent, brutal beatings of mentally ill inmates, Sheriff Lee Baca proposed a $1.4 billion jail expansion plan that would have cost taxpayers $2.66 billion after debt.[xxxvi] After public outcry forced him to withdraw the proposal, he submitted an application and was awarded $100 million through AB 900 phase II funding. He has hired AECOM, a prison construction company, to propose a plan to the Board of Supervisors for the rising jail population in the county, while ignoring several key reports on alternatives to jail, including one commissioned by the county itself. Although there are many evidence-based programs that offer treatment and re-entry support options, the County’s Realignment Plan allocates $26,800,000 only 21% of its $112.5 million budget to treatment, programs and alternative sentencing. The Board of Supervisors was recently found to have violated the law by shutting the public out of a meeting with Governor Jerry Brown on realignment, in what the LA Times identifies as a pattern of “astonishing contempt for the public.”[xxxvii]
Additional Counties seeking costly jail expansion, and in danger of Failing:[xxxviii]
-Orange County received $100 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Stanislaus County received $80 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Tulare County received $60 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-King Count received $33 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Shasta County received $33 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Sutter County received $10 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Imperial County received $24 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to expand jail capacity.
-Madera County received $3 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to add 144 beds.
-Santa Barbara County to receive $60 million through AB 900 Phase 2 to build 304 new beds.
-Calaveras County received $36 million through AB 900 Phase 1 to add 95 beds.
-Solano County received $93 million through AB 900 Phase 1 to add a 362 bed facility.
-Amador County received $22 million through AB 900 Phase 1 for a 89 bed jail expansion.
-San Benito County received $15 million through AB 900 Phase 2 for a 60 bed expansion.
-San Joaquin County received $80 million through AB 900 Phase 1 for a 1,280 beds jail expansion.
-San Luis Obispo County received $25 million through AB 900 Phase 1 for a 155 bed jail expansion.
[ii] “Ross Mirkarimi: San Francisco’s new sheriff focuses on reforms.” http://www.thewesternedition.com/?c=117&a=2053
[iii] Lagos, Marisa. Counties Dilemma: How to use funds for inmates.
Gilligan, Tirado Healther. After realignment, fewer women expected in prison. http://www.healthycal.org/archives/5728
[vi] http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/09/18/2547464/viewpoints-prisoner-realignment.html# ixzz1ZHhQvT3O
[xi] Woodall, Angela. Alameda County realignment plan ‘ambitious’ but moving in the right direction. http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19520284
[xii] Vara, Vauhini and Bobby White. Alameda Pushes More on Rehab and Less on Jail. The Wall Street Journal.
[xvii] Branan, Brad. Sacramento County supervisors OK $13 million realignment plan for inmates, parolees.
[xviii] Sacramento Bee. “Balance needed on jail spending vs. rehabilitation.” http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/02/4304939/balance-needed-on-jail-spending.html
[xix] Wong, Lonnie. “State Prison Release Worry Sacramento Law Enforcement.” http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-state-prison-releases-worry-sacramento-law-enforcementrealighnment-is-resulting-in-inmate-placement-20111026,0,358322.story
[xxiii] San Mateo County will receive 4.2 million.
[xxviii] County of Kern. “Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 Implementation Plan.” Page 11. Available at: http://calrealignment.org/county-implementation/list-of-county-plans.html