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Prison Shift Experiment A Dilemma

Publication Date: 
May 13, 2013
San Mateo Daily Journal
Don Thompson

Professor Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, spoke with San Mateo Daily Journal's Don Thompson about the effectiveness of the realignment of California state prison system and how California is "serving as a national experiment" to see if such a reduction of the prison population is a threat to public safety.

In response to a federal court order, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed a novel approach through the Legislature two years ago to dramatically reduce California’s prison population.

People convicted of felonies that were considered non-violent, non-sexual and non-serious would serve their sentences in county jails rather than state prisons. Once released, they would be supervised by local probation officers instead of state parole agents.


An expert who has been studying the prisoner shift, Stanford University law professor Joan Petersilia, said the policy is serving as a national experiment about whether prison populations can be reduced significantly without posing a threat to public safety.