California Governor Arnold Schwarzennneger has indicated that his May revised budget will include a provision to send fifteen thousand nonserious, nonviolent, non-sex offender felons presently serving time in state prison, to serve up to three years of their sentence in county jail (see: Sacramento Bee article). To some, the plan has obvious drawbacks, as many county jails are severely overcrowded, without adequate medical and other services, (and in some cases under federal caps). Others would argue that the plan would imprudently force county jail to release county inmates early.
But, it can also be seen as a positive development in the fight to keep non-violent offenders out of prison; a tacit acknowledgement of the compelling need to keep non-violent offenders in local probation based programs (whether custodial or otherwise). This can ultimately work out to be a major step away from state prison and toward community supervision and rehabilitation of non-violent offenders. County Probation Jail-Based Reentry Courts (or Pre-Entry courts) could be the real winner, if Schwarzenneger’s plan catches on in California and other states (see article: Jail Based Reentry Court As Grant Applicant)