Letter to the Editor: Jeffrey Callison

Jeffrey Callison, Press Secretary, CDCR

There were several errors of fact in Jay Serrano’s recent piece about prison crowding and Realignment:

1. California does not “need to release 9,600 inmates by the end of the year.” The current deadline is actually the end of February 2014. Also, the difference between the current population of the state’s prisons and the level determined by the court is actually a little over 8,000.

2. Realignment does not “move prisoners to county jails.” Realignment was a sentencing reform. Starting October 1, 2011, people convicted of lower-level crimes were sentenced to jail instead of prison. No one was sent or transferred from prison to jail.

3. Realignment does not “fail more often than it succeeds.” First, I’m not even sure what that means, or what is being measured. In any case, Realignment has certainly succeeded in significantly reducing the state prison population; it has also succeeded in sending lower-level offenders to a more appropriate environment (jail instead of prison; closer to home instead of hundreds of miles away); it has also been embraced in many counties.

4. Realignment does not “discourage counties from taking alternative approaches.” Realignment allows counties to implement it as they see best and many counties are using that chance to further embrace “alternative approaches.”

5. The panel of judges has not decided that “realignment has not been effective.” In fact, the judges have not expressed any opinion on Realignment, that I’m aware of. Their concern is getting the prison population to a certain level.

6. The state does not want to “move prisoners … to privately owned prisons.” The state is only doing that so as to avoid having to release felons early.

7. The state absolutely agrees that tackling recidivism is the way forward – and that was one of the reasons to implement Realignment because it will help to reduce recidivism among lower-level offenders. But tackling recidivism will have no impact on the prison population in time to comply with the court order.

Thank you.

Jeffrey Callison

Press Secretary, CDCR

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