California’s Prison Dilemma

Reading all the reasons why California can’t start their federally mandated “re-alignment” program this coming October 1st, it comes to mind of other changes we had in the past that were ill-received and for some “ill-conceived.” The Sacramento Sheriff stated publicly that “this notion about implementing an Oct. 1 deadline is asinine.” It might very well be so but the fact remains this action was a United States Supreme Court mandated decision that the state and the counties should have anticipated as the lawsuits were ongoing and reality showed the high probability of losing the case to the plaintiffs who made their case of overcrowding, poor medical care and suffering mental health standards as time went by.

The sheriff is asking for more time to be ready. He has stated the biggest problem is money allocated for such a shift of prisoners. The CDCR says there is adequate funding for this transition. Sheriff Jones assured the public he is not against the concept and says the county services will exceed the ability to take care of rehabilitative methods compared to those of the state as they move the prisoners into county facilities in the next two years but he needs more time thus basically asking the state to ask for an extension to the ruling deadline.

Since all the Sheriff is asking for is more time, more money and more realistic logistical realignment plans, it all sounds reasonable but the bottom line is this: California legislature and corrections officials have had this game plan ongoing now for quite some time and it seems kind of strange that the counties, knowing they would be the designated dumping grounds for excessive prisoner population wait until a month or two before the deadline to start talking about how the plan is flawed and how it is not going to work because of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I clearly remember that this is exactly how the prison problem was created with their successful three strikes and you are out policy filling up the prisons quicker than they could find bed space and money to support such an agenda. In an eagerness to follow California’s “tough of crime” stance, other states soon followed and are addressing the same overcrowding problems today. Seems like time ran out on that plan as well as money thus history repeats itself again. Sometimes, mass incarceration is not the answer to the problem. Alternatives are available to reduce prison populations and maintain a safe public standard through community corrections and intensive supervision outside of prisons rather than on the inside.


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