Is CA Prison Realignment Working? 11 San Diego Cases Raise Questions


Eleven men, once pegged as lower-level criminal offenders, have been charged with committing violent crimes in San Diego County since a new law shifted responsibility for supervising them from state to local authorities, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Among them is Joseph Todd Hall, who was charged with murder after his younger half-brother was shot in the head at their mother's home. Hall, 37, later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced this month to a 26-year prison term. Before the sentencing, his mother criticized the county Probation Department, expressing frustration over what she viewed as lack of contact from the officers who were supposed to supervise him.

Months before Gov. Jerry Brown's plan — known as public safety realignment — became law in October 2011, officials throughout California warned that without proper funding it could place too much of a burden on local authorities, putting the public at greater risk. Many said it would take only one case to reveal the plan as a failure. San Diego County officials said neither the Hall case, nor those of the other 10 offenders accused of crimes, including attempted murder and assault, give the full picture of whether realignment is working. Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins said Hall and the others represent less than 1 percent of the roughly 2,500 nonviolent and nonserious offenders who since the law took effect have been referred to probation after serving their time in prison.

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