State must shift prison realigment funding formula
Jan 31, 2013 | 1172 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s no secret that property crimes have been up in Patterson within the past year, and law enforcement agents and civic leaders alike have said a state prison realignment policy is a major culprit.

That’s why it’s heartening to see Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, pushing forward with legislation that would provide more funding to counties that are forced to house nonviolent criminals who have been released from state prisons.

The bill would change a formula that has tended to benefit wealthier counties with criminal diversion programs rather than typically poorer counties that happen to end up with the most prisoners.

Cannella also joined a bipartisan group of 11 other Central Valley legislators last month in writing a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, requesting a change in how realignment funding is allocated. The legislators asked that state realignment funds target counties where the most former state prisoners per capita have been released to county jurisdiction by Assembly Bill 109.

That law, signed by Brown in 2010, allows some convicts — excluding violent criminals and sex offenders — to serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. The result is that thousands of inmates considered “nonviolent” offenders have been sent to local jails, and many have since been released on probation.

The consequences of prison realignment are hurting Central Valley communities, and the state needs to do what it can to help local law enforcement agencies deal with the problem.

Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, another signer of the letter from Central Valley lawmakers in December, went so far as to say Brown was remiss in not mentioning the impact of prison realignment in his Jan. 24 State of the State address.

Though Brown’s speech was brilliant and touched on many priorities that are important to the San Joaquin Valley — including the future Amazon.com fulfillment center in Patterson — Berryhill correctly stated that the governor must take this issue seriously.

It would cost far more in the long run to let criminals wreak havoc on Patterson and other communities throughout the Central Valley because local law enforcement agencies lack the financial resources to cope with them.

The state created the problem, and the state must resolve it.
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