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California public safety overhauls show promise, but problems remain

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 1, 2015

A contentious program that shifted control of some state prisoners to local governments dramatically reduced the prison population in California, but the decrease was not enough to meet a federal court order, according to a report released Monday.

It was only after statewide voters last fall approved reduced penalties for certain drug and property crimes that the prison population fell below the mandated target, said the new analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California. It has remained there since January, more than a year ahead of schedule.

Public safety realignment, launched four years ago, was considered one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s largest political and policy hurdles since he returned to the Governor’s Office in 2011. Brown, responding to the prison reduction order, argued that local authorities were better positioned to deal with alleviating the overcrowding crisis. But his critics, including law-and-order Republicans and some in law enforcement, asserted the changes would lead to a spike in crime.

PPIC makes no wholesale claims about the efficacy of the program. However, it provides a snapshot of its early effects as new reforms continue to take hold, including November’s successful Proposition 47 that changed most nonviolent property and drug crimes to misdemeanors from felonies.

Read the whole story at Sac Bee

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