Blue ribbon commission to study effects of prison realignment
file photo. flashing SCV Sheriff Station patrol lights.
By Andrew Clark
Thursday, January 18th, 2018

County officials are trying to determine the effect of three measures created to reform the criminal justice system, as prosecutors launch a signature-gathering campaign to put another initiative on the ballot.

Stephanie English, chief justice deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said Barger formed a blue ribbon commission to see “what have been the unintended consequences and what are our options for course-correcting those unintended consequences,” as well as how the county is spending money on resources to help the incarcerated and recently released to eliminate or alleviate recidivism.

“Those two goals are not mutually exclusive,” she said. “The supervisor is very concerned about public safety.”

The commission will have its third meeting next week.

Earlier this month, prosecutors said they would seek signatures for a ballot initiative to address issues created by Proposition 47, which reduced certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors after it was approved by voters in 2014. Proposition 57, approved two years later, hastened the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons. The initiative says it will not allow violent felons to be released early from prison, reform theft laws, and expand DNA collection.

Among the crimes that would be re-classified as violent felonies are domestic violence, hate crimes, raping an unconscious person and child abduction.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the main backers of Proposition 47, said the measure was a way for the state to end felony sentencing for the lowest level, nonviolent crimes and “permanently reduce incarceration.”

“At the same time, Prop. 47 reduces the barriers that many people with a low-level, non-violent felony conviction face to becoming stable and productive citizens, such as a lack of employment, housing and access to assistance programs and professional trades,” the group said in its endorsement.

On Prop. 57, the group said it was a sign from voters that “our criminal justice system needs to give people a chance at rehabilitation and reintegration.”

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California said in a study last month that individuals released under AB 109 were more likely to be re-arrested than before the law was passed. Those sentenced under the state penal code for committing felonies that require a jail sentence, known as penal code 1170(h), had mixed results.

“We find that individuals released under post-release community supervision during the first two years of re-alignment have slightly higher rates of re-arrest and reconviction than their pre-realignment counterparts. Recidivism among individuals sentenced under 1170(h) is more mixed. The 1170(h) population has a higher two-year rearrest rate than their pre-realignment counterparts, but lower one- and two-year reconviction rates. Notably, among 1170(h) offenders, we find higher rearrest rates for those who received probation supervision following their jail term (known as a split sentence), but lower reconviction rates. Those who served a jail term with no probation after release (known as a straight sentence) have the same or lower recidivism rates when compared with their pre-realignment counterparts—the only group for which there is evidence of consistently better outcomes after realignment.”

About the author

Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark

file photo. flashing SCV Sheriff Station patrol lights.

Blue ribbon commission to study effects of prison realignment

County officials are trying to determine the effect of three measures created to reform the criminal justice system, as prosecutors launch a signature-gathering campaign to put another initiative on the ballot.

Stephanie English, chief justice deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said Barger formed a blue ribbon commission to see “what have been the unintended consequences and what are our options for course-correcting those unintended consequences,” as well as how the county is spending money on resources to help the incarcerated and recently released to eliminate or alleviate recidivism.

“Those two goals are not mutually exclusive,” she said. “The supervisor is very concerned about public safety.”

The commission will have its third meeting next week.

Earlier this month, prosecutors said they would seek signatures for a ballot initiative to address issues created by Proposition 47, which reduced certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors after it was approved by voters in 2014. Proposition 57, approved two years later, hastened the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons. The initiative says it will not allow violent felons to be released early from prison, reform theft laws, and expand DNA collection.

Among the crimes that would be re-classified as violent felonies are domestic violence, hate crimes, raping an unconscious person and child abduction.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the main backers of Proposition 47, said the measure was a way for the state to end felony sentencing for the lowest level, nonviolent crimes and “permanently reduce incarceration.”

“At the same time, Prop. 47 reduces the barriers that many people with a low-level, non-violent felony conviction face to becoming stable and productive citizens, such as a lack of employment, housing and access to assistance programs and professional trades,” the group said in its endorsement.

On Prop. 57, the group said it was a sign from voters that “our criminal justice system needs to give people a chance at rehabilitation and reintegration.”

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California said in a study last month that individuals released under AB 109 were more likely to be re-arrested than before the law was passed. Those sentenced under the state penal code for committing felonies that require a jail sentence, known as penal code 1170(h), had mixed results.

“We find that individuals released under post-release community supervision during the first two years of re-alignment have slightly higher rates of re-arrest and reconviction than their pre-realignment counterparts. Recidivism among individuals sentenced under 1170(h) is more mixed. The 1170(h) population has a higher two-year rearrest rate than their pre-realignment counterparts, but lower one- and two-year reconviction rates. Notably, among 1170(h) offenders, we find higher rearrest rates for those who received probation supervision following their jail term (known as a split sentence), but lower reconviction rates. Those who served a jail term with no probation after release (known as a straight sentence) have the same or lower recidivism rates when compared with their pre-realignment counterparts—the only group for which there is evidence of consistently better outcomes after realignment.”