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Inmate Population Will Break Pre-Allignment Levels By 2015, Report Says

Publication Date: 
March 08, 2013
Source: 
Daily Journal
Author: 
Hamed Aleaziz

A new report on California prison realignment by Professor Joan Petersilia and Jessica Snyder, JD '13, is the focus of this Daily Journal article by Hamed Aleaziz.  In the article, Aleaziz suggests that the report's findings could "undermind Gov. Jerry Brown's efforts to portray realignment as a success." 

California's criminal justice system could be in the midst of a "very expensive and painful game of musical chairs," according to a forthcoming analysis of the state's realignment plan.

The report projects that by 2015, the number of individuals in correctional custody will be nearly equal to the inmate population before realignment. The difference, its authors note, will be that the population will be split roughly evenly between jails and prisons. The findings could undermine Gov. Jerry Brown's efforts to portray realignment as a success.

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Titled "Looking Past the Hype: 10 Questions Everyone Should Be Asking About California's Prison Realignment," the analysis will be published in the April edition of The California Journal of Politics and Policy. Its authors are Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center and former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jessica Snyder, a third-year student at Stanford Law School.

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But Petersilia wonders whether realignment will really be a sustainable fix. "The question people should be asking is: Are the mentally ill now getting better care than they did prior to ... Plata," she said. "If they are not, of course, then that means that all the litigation from the state is going to follow the inmates to those county jails, and that's the other concern that we have got to have."

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Petersilia does acknowledge that moving prisoners closer to their own communities could help with reintegration. And the report mentions that the state set aside roughly $1.7 billion for jail expansion.

 

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Petersilia is scheduled to present the report before the California Senate Democratic Caucus later this month.