Something unanticipated is happening to the California AB109 Prison Realignment Reform.They have (as hoped) placed some 27,000 ex-prisoners under probation rather than parole supervision and by statute denied the courts and counties the authority to return these offenders to prison without a new serious or violent offense. But of late, the number of prisoners has stopped its substantial monthly reduction, to the point where the drop in state prisoners was a total of seventy-seven in August (see L.A. Times graph).
It’s somewhat unclear why the reduction in prisoners has been reduced to a trickle, but the situation presents serious problems for the state. Califronia is under a Federal Court order to reduce its prison population or face the Federal Court ordering the release of prisoners.
More baffling is the stabilization in the numbers of state prisoners. It is suggested in an article in the Los Angeles Times that it is the result of county judges who decide to send offenders to state prison, rather than keep them local. But judges have limited discretion to send offenders to state prison if the new offense is what is called a triple non (conviction of a non serious, non-violent. non- sex offender). But those judges who are intent on sending triple nons, (with serious or violent prior convictions) to state prison, often have the discretion to do so. This may be why the prison population is no longer dropping. Clearly, further investigation and analysis is required to understand why realignment has hit a speed bump.