In an editorial, the Sacramento Bee lauds Gov. Jerry Brown’s bold plan to realign the criminal justice system. But the newspapers says that if counties deal with the plan to shift prisoners from state to local lockups by simply expanding jail capacity, “it will become a big, expensive flop.” A seven-member Community Corrections Partnership committee in Sacramento faces a decision Thursday whether to reopen a 275-bed jail immediately, or focus on approaches to reduce existing jail population – to make way for offenders who used to be sentenced to state prison.
The paper says, “The most promising avenue for reducing jail population while maintaining public safety is to look closely at people who have been arrested and accused of a crime, but who are awaiting trial. In the past, jails were roughly evenly divided between pretrial detainees and people who had been convicted and sentenced to a jail term. Now, sentenced offenders are a shrinking minority – 40 percent – of the Sacramento County jail population. That trend should be reversed. The issue should be: Who, really, needs to be detained before trial, and who should be allowed to remain in the community while his or her case proceeds?”