In the first four videos, we looked at Glenn, San Mateo, San Bernardino and San Joaquin counties to see generally how they were handling Realignment. Now we are honing in on singular aspects of AB 109 programming in six additional counties: Ventura, San Diego, Contra Costa, Marin, Merced and Colusa. Our goal is to show specific examples of how these counties are ending the revolving-door cycle, and helping people who have been in and out of incarceration for years to finally stay out for good.
Each year, Capitol Weekly, a well-read publication that covers California state government and politics, unveils a list of the top 100 most influential non-elected political leaders. I was pleased to learn that I am ranked No. 45 in the 2013 list released last night. But making this list isn’t about me; it’s a result of the influential and successful work undertaken by our Association, as well as a reflection of the critical and complex issues we have dealt with the past few years.
When California’s 58 counties began to tackle the challenges imposed by AB 109, the public-safety realignment of 2011, Glenn quickly became the “little county that could.” Through its Community Re-Entry Work (CREW) Program, Glenn is reducing recidivism, turning ex-offenders into contributing members of society – and saving the county money in the process.
In Glenn County, individuals now have a choice between receiving general assistance for three months or enrolling in CREW. The latter option is a 12-month program the provides ex-offenders the opportunity to receive assistance in a variety of areas, from housing and employment assistance to life skills and education. As Community Services Manager Lucy Hernandez is quick to explain, “It’s not a hand out; it’s a hand-up program.”
Crime doesn’t pay — it costs. Anyone who has ever been a crime victim can tell you that, but so can county sheriffs and probation chiefs who are responsible for keeping track of many of the people who commit crimes in California. They will tell you that it is far more expensive to keep someone in jail than it is to supervise them in the community. The corollary to that is it is far less expensive to help someone so they don’t break the law again, than it is to have to put them back in jail if they do. And if they aren’t committing more crimes, they aren’t creating anymore victims either. With that in mind, San Bernardino County is at the forefront of a growing trend in criminal justice: meeting the needs of low-risk offenders so they don’t reoffend and get sent back to jail.
Our adversarial election process is one of the hallmarks of American democracy, and it is generally a good thing. However, election-driven rhetoric isn’t always the best way to transmit factual information about complex issues. For example, the next gubernatorial election in California is 19 months away and already the friction around public safety realignment is [...]