Public Safety

A Punishing New Challenge for San Diego County

The County Board of Supervisors today adopted an urgency ordinance paving the way for the shift of thousands of criminal offenders from the state to the County. The move comes in the wake of Assembly Bill (AB) 109, known as the Public Safety Realignment Act, which was signed by Governor Brown April 4 to ease prison overcrowding and takes effect October 1.

The Act allows the State to shift low level offenders from state prisons to local County jails and shifts the supervision of many parolees to the County. The County is expected to take responsibility for a total of 4,000 offenders. About half are known as post-release offenders who would have been supervised by state parole upon release and will now be supervised by the County Probation Department. The other half are non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenders who will shift from state prison to local jails run by the Sheriff’s department, which only has 800 additional beds available.

Under AB 109, an executive committee of the County’s Community Corrections Partnership must create a plan to implement these changes, collectively known as public safety realignment.  County Probation Chief Mack Jenkins heads the local committee and presented the plan to the Board today.

“Our first priority is public safety,” said Jenkins. “We will build on the successes of the local criminal justice community through multi-agency efforts such as reentry court, veterans court and drug court to reduce recidivism. We will also use what is called evidence-based practices in supervision and sentencing. That means using proven tools to manage each offender’s case to keep them accountable and reduce the likelihood they will commit another crime.”

The committee is planning to use an initial allocation of $11 million for the immediate needs of supervision, custody and intervention services. However, the County estimates underfunding will be in the tens of millions of dollars annually. As a result, Supervisors approved a resolution today stating the County will pursue every legal option to ensure that programs related to Public Safety Realignment are fully funded as required by law, so the County can continue protecting its residents and continue offering basic public services to those in need.