Is California Prisoner Realignment a “Bait and Switch” Plan?


Los Angeles County expects 15,000 additional criminals under California’s justice realignment plan that takes effect tomorrow, NPR reports. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is not happy. “This has all the markings of a bait and switch,” he says. The state is sending the county $120 million to take care of its prisoners for the next nine months. Yaroslavsky has seen the state play this game before. “They promise us everything now, they shift this huge responsibility from the state to the counties now, and then a year or two or three from now, they will forget about that commitment, and it’ll be — then was then and now is now, and we’ll be left holding the bag,” he says.

Starting tomorrow, those convicted of nonviolent crimes, mostly drug offenses, won’t be sent off to state prison anymore — they’ll be locked up locally. On top of more prisoners, there will be more parolees. Nonviolent criminals released from state prison will now be placed under the supervision of L.A.’s already troubled probation department. In the first year, that could add as many as 8,000 cases to local officers’ workloads. L.A. Probation Chief Donald Blevins says, “I’ve never seen a period of time where there is so much change with regard to the criminal justice system. I’ll be honest with you: I think it’s welcome change; I think it’s time to do things differently.”

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