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Realignment Subjects Local Jails To Legal Threat

Publication Date: 
January 06, 2014
Daily Journal
Hamed Aleaziz

Professor Joan Petersilia is quoted on the effects of California's "realignment" law regarding prison overcrowding in The Daily Journal.

From overcrowding to increased violence, county jails across the state say they seeing the consequences of California's overhauled prison system.

Under the 2011 law known as realignment, responsibility for low-level felons transferred from state prisons to county jails. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation describes the plan as the "cornerstone" of the state's plan to comply with a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding to 137 percent of capacity.


"There were only two things that everybody over the 125 interviews agreed with," said Joan Petersilia, who wrote the report. "One of the things ... was capping at some point the jail terms." The other had to do with parolee supervision.

County jails, she said, lack programming for long-term inmates. That's a problem because it adds to the "violence potential" within the jails. "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," she said.

Inmates who serve longer sentences also develop health issues as they age. Costs associated with treating such ailments, Petersilia said, are "burdensome for counties over the long term."