California Prison “Realignment” Surprise: No One Wants to Repeal It


What the San Jose Mercury News calls California’s “titanic policy shift” of sending most low-level criminal offenders from state custody to counties is getting mixed reviews from law enforcement and justice officials, says a Stanford Criminal Justice Center study.

Interviews with 125 involved in criminal justice, from police to judges to offenders themselves, find most cautiously optimistic about the controversial “realignment” of the criminal justice system. “What was most surprising was nobody said it should be repealed,” said Stanford law Prof. Joan Petersilia, the study’s author and an advocate of the change. “They are on board seriously; it’s not just mouthing it, because they know the previous system was failing on almost every dimension,” including the nation’s highest recidivism rate. Probation officials were the most enthusiastic about realignment and prosecutors among the least supportive.

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