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State’s Realignment Law Gets Mixed Reviews

Publication Date: 
November 15, 2013
Southern California Public Radio - 89.3 KPCC - Airtalk
Larry Mantle

Stanford Law Professor Joan Petersilia weighs in on California's prison realignment program for Southern California Public Radio.

After a federal court ordered California to reduce its prison population, the state enacted “realignment.” The law shifted responsibility for tens of thousands of felons to counties. Now, two years after implementation, a new study gives the massive policy change mixed reviews.

The report from the Stanford Criminal Justice Center includes interviews with 125 representatives from 21 counties, covering every aspect of the criminal justice system, including police, judges and offenders themselves. Surprisingly, most are cautiously optimistic about the changes to the criminal justice system, but concerns, especially among prosecutors, remain.

The consensus was “this happened too fast, the infrastructure was not ready, and we went too far. We need to pull back a little bit,” said Stanford Law School professor Joan Petersilia, who authored the report. According to the findings, over 100,000 felons have been switched over to counties for punishment and probation since October 2011.



Joan Petersilia, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School and author of the study “Voices from the Field: How California Stakeholders View Public Safety Realignment

Kim Raney, Chief of Police, City of Covina; President of the California Police Chiefs Association