Many California nonprofit community organizations have been lobbying hard to be included in the pot of money counties are getting under the state’s criminal justice realignment plan, which includes keeping more felons at county lockups instead of shipping them to state prisons, says the San Francisco Chronicle. How that funding is spent varies by county. Some are spending the bulk of the money on law enforcement, including the hiring of police and probation officers, while others are choosing to invest in nonprofits that offer substance abuse counseling, housing, job training, and other services to criminal offenders.
Experts say counties that choose to invest in services are more likely to reduce recidivism – and thus the number of people in the state’s crowded jails and prisons. Studies back that up. A recent report by the Pew Center on the States noted that the “largest reductions in recidivism are realized when evidence-based programs and practices are implemented in prisons and govern the supervision of (offenders) in the community post-release.” Some of the state’s largest counties, have put just a small fraction of their realignment budget into services. San Bernardino County, second only to Los Angeles County in the number of inmates it sends to state prison every year, earmarked only $300,000 of their $27.5 million budget to faith- and community-based organizations this year, a move that angered many advocates.