Inmates walk around freely in a cellblock at San Joaquin County Jail on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
By Kristopher Anderson/News-Sentinel Staff Writer | Posted
When the state Legislature passed a realignment plan in 2011, they hoped to reduce overcrowding in California’s prisons. But since its adoption, there has been an alarming unintended consequence: Violence in county jails throughout the state has soared.
To ease overcrowded state prisons and reduce the number of inmates being released before completing their sentences, California lawmakers adopted a policy known as realignment.
Under realignment, started in October 2011, lower-level criminals may serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons. This new policy is a major change in how California deals with incarceration.
Here are 10 things taxpayers and voters need to know about realignment:
1. The San Joaquin County Jail is designed to house 1,213 inmates. Today, the jail houses roughly 1,450-1,500 inmates.
2. Every day a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge selects inmates, based on their behavior and offense, to be released in order to prevent the jail from becoming overcrowded.
3. Criminals who commit non-violent offenses are routinely released early because of limited space inside the jail.
4. Cities throughout San Joaquin County have experienced a significant rise in property crimes, which officials say is largely a result of inmates being released early. In Lodi, car thefts increased more than 30 percent in 2012 and are up more than 60 percent so far this year.
5. Since realignment, criminals are more likely to be convicted two or more times, according to a study by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
6. California has allocated $1 billion to counties throughout the state in order to alleviate the pressures of realignment.
7. Before realignment, 79 percent of inmates returned to a state prison for parole violations. Since realignment, less than 1 percent return to a state prison for violating parole. Instead, they serve time in county jails.
8. From October 2010 to May 2011, San Joaquin County Jail released 2.7 percent of inmates. Since realignment, the county jail’s population has increased significantly, but only 2.4 percent of inmates were released.
9. During the 2013-14 fiscal year, San Joaquin County will receive $17.5 million in funding from the state of California in order to alleviate the effects of realignment.
10. Since realignment, more offenders are serving a portion of their sentence in jail and another portion in the community under mandatory probation supervision.