Recent urban crime increases are not linked to Realignment

This post is reprinted with the kind permission of the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (http://cjcj.org/)

 

San Francisco, CA: Since California’s Public Safety Realignment (AB109) was implemented in October 2011, critics have charged that the policy, which keeps low-level felons under county supervision instead of sending them to prison, is leading to crime increases across the state. However, these assertions are based on anecdote rather than evidence. A new report by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, California’s Urban Crime Increase in 2012: Is “Realignment” to Blame?, has analyzed the first full crime figures published since Realignment went into effect, and found no correlation between Realignment and crime trends. The publication finds:

 

  • Violent and property crime rates rose in 40 of California’s 69 cities with populations of 100,000 or more in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011. Though crime rates remain among the lowest recorded over the last 40 years, this is the biggest crime increase in 20 years.

 

  • Urban crime trends varied widely among counties. Changes in violent crime rates ranged from a 33% increase in San Mateo County to a 13% drop in Santa Barbara County. For property crime rates, fluctuations ranged from a 24% increase in Stanislaus County to a 11% decrease in Santa Barbara County.

 

  • Realigning more offenders is not connected with increases in crime. In fact, the counties with the largest proportions of realigned offenders and parolees showed smaller increases in violent and property crimes than did counties with smaller proportions of realigned offenders.
    • Of the eight counties showing decreases in urban violent crime, five had greater than average proportions of realigned offenders.
    • Sacramento County and Alameda County, which have similar urban populations and realigned at similar rates, saw sharply different increases in violent and property crimes
    • The city of Los Angeles showed a substantial decrease in violent crime in the first half of 2012 (down 7.9%), which, according to figures from the police department, persisted throughout the year and into 2013.

 

“Analysis of the best data available to date suggests that offenders and parolees who have not committed violent or serious crimes can be supervised at the local level without jeopardizing public safety,” says study author Mike Males.

 

Read the full publication at: http://www.cjcj.org/files/California_Urban_Crime_Increase_2012.pdf

 

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with CJCJ Senior Research Fellow, Mike Males, please contact Selena Teji at (415) 621-5661 x. 123 or by email at cjcjmedia@cjcj.org.

 

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PARTIAL VICTORY IN AB109 ALLOCATIONS AND POLICY

At their January 8, 2013 meeting, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors took action on the recommended “guiding goals” and allocations of AB109 for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The advocacy efforts of the Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform (ACCCJR) and other community stakeholders was able to accomplish some significant changes in the allocations as well as several other policy decisions that the Board of Supervisors included in their resolution.

A major theme of the meeting was the Board’s recognition that the process was flawed, lacked transparency, that the County needs to do better in the future and that we should expect to see a different process for year three funding.

The Board received several documents from the CCP-EC and county agencies including the following

  1. General transmittal letter from the CPO, on behalf of the CCP-EC, containing their recommendations and proposed allocations (Attach_#34_Probation_YEAR_TWO_PUBLIC_SAFETY_REALIGNMENT_FUNDS_11.6.12)
  2. A Letter from Health Care Services requesting funds for the Realignment Innovation Fund (Attach#35_HCSA_RIF_11.6.12)
  3. A Letter from the Sheriff requesting funds for staffing (Attach_#36_Sheriff_Realignment_Budget_Adjustment_11.13.12)
  4. A letter from the CPO requesting funding for staffing (Attch_#37_ Probation_FUNDING_PROBATION_STAFF__11.7.12)
  5. A second letter from the CPO modifying the recommendation to provide more funds for community-based services (Probation_Recs Use_of_the_201213_AB109_Funds_1.4.13)

The following is a summary of the Board action.

 NO YEAR TWO PLAN BUT THREE GUIDING GOALS

The CPO’s November 4th transmittal letter to the Board presented “three guiding goals” rather than a year two plan (Attach_#34_Probation_YEAR_TWO_PUBLIC_SAFETY_REALIGNMENT_FUNDS_11.6.12).  The three goals include:

  1. Protect the public through transparent and accountable administration and services.
  2. Ensure effective and supportive transitions from detention to the community.
  3. Develop innovative and therapeutic supports for clients focused on health, housing and improving access to family sustaining employment.

The CPO’s letter promises that a full year two plan is forthcoming and will be presented to the Board.

 FUND ALLOCATIONS FOR COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

In our alternative budget proposals (see the prior posting on this blog), ACCCJR had argued that a minimum of 40% of the state funds be allocated to community-based services through community-based providers.  The original Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee (CCP-EC) recommendation was that $4.5 million of the $29.2 million of the state funds be allocated to this purpose.  In a supplemental letter sent to the Board on January 4, 2013, CPO Harris indicated a change in the CCP-EC recommendation to increase the allocation to $6.7 million (Probation_Recs Use_of_the_201213_AB109_Funds_1.4.13).  This represents about 23% of the state funds; while below the ACCCJR recommendation of 40%, it does reflect some movement on the issue and means an increased amount of funds for community-based services.  At its January 14, 2013 meeting, the CCP-EC discussed the allocation of the additional $2.2 million and made a preliminary decision to allocate an additional $1 million to employment services, $an additional $1 million to the Realignment Innovation Fund and $220,000 to reimburse smaller community-based organizations providing services to AB109 clients.  At that meeting the  CCP-EC also made a decision to allocate $1.4 million of the $1.7 million in year one and two planning and training funds to  the County Information Technology Department to upgrade the county’s criminal justice data system, leaving  about $300,000 for all other planning and training needs.

One of the elements of the approved budget was funds to hire a Realignment Coordinator, something that the ACCCJR has advocated for as being essential to the development of a coherent and coordinated reentry system in the county.

POLICY DECISIONS IN RESOLUTION

In addition to approving the allocation recommendations of the CCP-EC, the Board of Supervisors added several policy provisions to the resolution including the following:

  1. LINE ITEM BUDGETS FOR YEAR ONE AND YEAR TWO: By the end of January, every county agency must develop a line item budget for both the 11-12 and 12-13 fiscal years detailing how they plan to or have spent AB109 funds.  This will be interesting since the 2011-12 year has already been completed and expenditures made so all that can be produced is a detailed line item statements of how the funds were used.  However, the requirement to produce a detailed budget for 2012-13, something that ACCCJR has advocated for, will provide the public and the Board with a much better sense of how the expenditures align with the strategic framework.
  2. REVIEW OF CBOS’ PAST PERFORMANCE IN CONTRACTING PROCESS: The Board incorporated into their resolution a letter from Supervisor Carson calling for more detailed review of information on CBO’s past performance in the process of contracting with them for AB109 services (Carson_letter_realignment (2)_1.8.13).
  3. BUDGET DETAIL FROM THE SHERIFF: The Board resolution also requires the Sheriff to provide the Board details on the use of AB109 funds for the department’s 21 positions and detail how the positions relate to accomplishment of the intervention framework (three guiding goals) the Board approved as part of the CCP-Executive Committee recommendations.
  4. COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD FOR CCP-EC: The Board resolution requires the CPO to explore creation of an advisory board to the Executive Committee, similar to Contra Costa County, which ensures community participation.
  5. CCP-EC REPORTING TO THE PUBLIC PROTECTION COMMITTEE: The Board clarified its intent that In the future, the Executive Committee must report regularly to the Public Protection Committee, providing an additional mechanism for community participation.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

While much was accomplished by the Board action on July 8, 2013 there remain a number of questions and issues that still need to be resolved.  Here are a few:

Overall Budget Allocations

While I admit to my inability to ever make the budget figures add up during this process, I am even more confused at this point about how all the allocations add up to $29.2 million.  It is unclear where the additional $2.2 million in community services funds came from.  Hopefully the end of January line item budgets will provide insight into this.

Expediting Contracting

Now that the Board has adopted allocations for AB109, the next challenge is getting the contracts executed to get the money to community-based providers.  As a part of its adoption of the CCP-EC recommendations, the Board also adopted recommendations of the Procurement Sub-Committee of the CCP-EC on methods of expediting the contracting process.

Unexpended Year Two Funds

Since we are so late in the process of contracting for community-based services, we need to make sure that funds that cannot be contracted out by the end of the fiscal year remain available for community based services and not swept up to cover expenses of county agencies.

Future Use of AB109 Funds to Close Public Protection Budget Gaps

A big issue underlying the conflicts over AB109 funds this year is the decision to use $18.4 million to close the public protection budget gap.  We need to make sure that this becomes a one-time practice so that for year three there are far more funds for providing services to AB109 clients.

 

While some progress has been made in redirecting the allocation of funding, there is still much work to be done in getting a plan for the county and getting to the very important policy change opportunities that AB109 provides.

 

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE COALITION’S AB109 BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

ALAMEDA COUNTY COALITION FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

1720 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

510- 893-2404

January 7, 2013

 

Board of Supervisors

Alameda County

County of Alameda Administration Building

1221 Oak Street, #536

Oakland, CA 94612


RE:  Coalition Recommendations Allocation for Year Two Public Safety Realignment Funds and Alternate Budget

Honorable Members of the Board of Supervisors:

On November 19, 2012, the Coalition wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors (BOS), with copies to the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee (CCP-EC), which included comments, concerns, questions and recommendations regarding the year two AB109 Criminal Justice Realignment Plan and proposed budget allocations.  Members of our Coalition, as well as other from the community, attended the November 20, 2012 BOS meeting to express our comments and recommendations. Members of the Coalition and community also had an opportunity to attend the December 13, 2012 Public Protection Committee to hear further explanations of the budget allocations from representatives of the CCP-EC and to voice our comments.

On January 4, 2013 Coalition members became aware that the Board would again consider action on the allocation of AB109 funds for year two (Agenda Items #34-37B) as recommended by the Chief Probation Officer Harris on behalf of the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee (CCP-EC) at its upcoming meeting of January 8, 2013.  On Friday, January 4, 2013, the CPO posted an additional letter, five pages in length but with 39 pages of attachments, which contains different allocation recommendations from the CCP-EC than those that were posted the prior day. We acknowledge the efforts of the CCP-EC to address the Coalition’s and community’s concerns in their latest letter around the proportion of funds allocated to community-based services provision.  However, at the same time we must renew our concerns about the lack of transparency and consistency in the CCP-EC’s budget proposals since it lacks the detail about how much of the $22.4 million is going to each institutional partner and how much of the entire budget will go to community-based service providers.  As discussed in our recommendations below, a detailed line item budget proposal will solve this problem.

Given that the budget allocations will be considered by the Board at its January 8, 2013 meeting, and the changes submitted in the supplemental letter of January 4, 2013 we have prepared a set of general budget recommendations as well as two alternative budget scenarios for the Board’s consideration.  Below we outline a set of general recommendations regarding budget process and allocations, followed by two sets of detailed recommendations for AB109 budget allocations. As you will note, some of the general recommendations are the same as those we submitted in our prior letter to you.

One of the goals of our Coalition is for Year 2 funding to be an integral step in a forward moving plan toward a public safety system that meets the needs of our community in future years, and not merely to maintain a status quo that is of the past.

Therefore, it is with some consternation that we view the lack of an overall detailed plan by the CCP-EC.  However, it is indisputable that the general tenor of state policy (and voters’ sympathies) is to reduce the total number of incarcerated individuals, which will necessitate genuine changes in the existing County criminal justice system.  For these reasons, we urge that funding not be used to back-fill positions or maintain existing budgets, but be used to move toward the crux of the issue–promoting successful reentry and reducing recidivism.

 BACKGROUND

We recognize the urgency for the Board to adopt budget year two allocations for AB109 funds.  Two factors drive this urgency. First, and foremost, is the need to get support services contracts procured so that the AB109 population has immediate access to the range of services and supports we know are critical to their successful reentry into the community, and which reduce recidivism and improves public safety. Second, we understand that the expeditious allocation and immediate spending of funds for appropriate programs and services is vital to maintaining those resources in subsequent years in the face of opposition by other counties that argue the higher allocation to Alameda, which they believe comes at their expense, is not needed since we have failed to allocate, let alone expend, the year two funds.  While we are sensitive to this issue, we are not certain that the apparent decision to allocate $18,000,000 to closing the law enforcement budget gap demonstrates and justifies Alameda County’s need for the level of funding we have received. In summary, however, we agree that it is in everyone’s interest to immediately allocate the funds and expeditiously procure the services which promote successful reentry and reduction of recidivism.

GENERAL BUDGET ALLOCATION RECOMMENDATIONS

Below we set forth our general recommendations regarding B109 budget allocations.

Make the current budget decisions to cover only year two allocations and not include year three allocations

  1. We recommend that the Board make decision on January 8, 2013 that cover only allocations for year two and not for year three as recommended by the CPO in her letter of January 4, 2013.

As noted in our prior letter, this is the second year in which the decisions regarding and plan and allocations have been forwarded to the Board well into the fiscal year.  Moreover, as pointed out by the CPO in her letter, the CCP-EC has yet to complete its year one report and we have little or no information on how funds were expended, the specific activities that were funded and what results of the programs and services that were supported by AB109 funds in year one.  The problem of late plan development and budget allocations is not cured by adopting a two-year budget.  Instead, we propose the Board act on budget allocations for only year two and direct the CCP-EC to undertake a process which is designed and scheduled to align the CCP-EC plan and recommendations with the timing of the County’s budgeting process so decisions are finalized in advance of the beginning of the fiscal year.

 Set a minimum level of funding for community-based programs and services & require detailed line item budgets from all County agencies receiving AB109 funds.    

2. We recommend that the Board adopt a formula for AB109 funds which allocates at least 40% of all funds to community-based services provided by nonprofit organizations not affiliated with law enforcement agencies.  This would provide a minimum of $11.68 million from year two funds to community-based providers.

 

We further recommend:

2.1 All County agencies receiving AB109 funds should be required to provide a detailed, line item budget which connects their use of funds to goals, objectives and priorities contained in the Realignment Plan and to provide year-end budget reports which document the expenditure of funds consistent with the plan.

2.2 Any funds going to the Sheriff and Probation should be coupled with cost-saving requirements and effective measures to prevent future deficits necessitating Realignment funds, e.g. reducing pre-trial detention costs, reducing the length of probation.

2.3 Any increase in funding to the Sheriff’s office through realignment dollars should be coupled with a requirement for increased inmate services at jail sites, especially Santa Rita.

We believe that a disproportionate amount of the AB109 funds are being allocated to law enforcement, especially given the decrease in the total number of inmates and the limited number of AB109 or 1170H clients they are serving as a result of  realignment.

We also understand that the large amount of funds that are being allocated to law enforcement include funds to close the prior year’s budget gap.  We strongly object to this use of AB109 funds.

Alameda County should be a pioneer in building authentic community partnerships by partnering with  and funding community-based providers (that are not a subsidiary of law-enforcement) and aside from funds allocated to county and other public agencies such as health care services. This would ensure resources to the community-based and faith organizations providing a substantial portion of the housing and employment services to reentry populations.

3.      We generally agree with the goals set forth by the CCP-EC in the CPO’s recommendation letter, although we disagree with the proposed allocations, especially as they relate to funds for detention and community supervision.  As noted in recommendation 2 above, at least 40% of the funds should be allocated to community-based services provided by community partners.

 

3.1 The current allocation of funds for employment services totals less than 3% of the $29.2 million received by the County for the current year.  We recommend that an additional allocation of $5.25 million be made for employment services.

3.2 The Board should set aside AB109 funds to ensure robust evaluation of implementation overall as well as rigorous evaluation of programs and services.

Allocate funds for the implementation of the Realignment Innovation Fund as proposed by the CCP-EC

While we enthusiastically support the proposed creation of the Realignment Innovation Fund and look forward to its expeditious implementation upon approval of a year two plan and allocations, we do have a few areas of concern and recommendations.

4.      We recommend that eligibility for the Realignment Innovation Fund (RIF) be restricted to community-based, faith organizations and local governmental agencies other than county agencies.  We further recommend that if local public agencies other than county agencies apply for the RIF, they be required to commit matching funds on a dollar per dollar basis and not in-kind contributions.

 5.      We further recommend that the RIF be used to develop tools for documenting and evaluating evidence-based programs and practices and those receiving awards from the RIF be obligated to work with the CCP-EC to develop tools and systems for furthering evidence-based practices and funds be set aside for such purposes.

Adopt the CCP-EC Procurement Committee recommendations regarding procurement

6.      Given the delay in completing the allocation decision making, it is critical that the Board adopt the Procurement Committee recommendations for expediting procurement and to instruct GSA to prioritize the support needed to complete the procurement process so that contracts can be let and services rendered.

Vacate the decision to use $18 million in realignment funds to close the public protection budget gap

7.      Since, as we understand it, the Sheriff’s Office has already received an allocation of $18.4 million from realignment funds to cover their budget gap, we recommend that the request be denied and that the requested $4 million be allocated to community-based services in an effort to reach the minimum 40% allocation of AB109 funds for community-based services as detailed in recommendation 2 above.  We further request that the Board allocate an additional $5.1 million to community-based services to bring the total to $9.1 million and that the Board identify another $2.58 million to reach the recommended minimum of 40% or a total of $11.68 million. See our primary alternative budget recommendations.

Fund the Probation Department staffing request to hire additional DPOs for realignment related activities

8.      We support the recommendation for $1.7 million allocation to the Probation Department.

9.      We recommend that a $500,000 allocation be made to create a position of reentry services coordinator the position be housed in a county agency other than a law enforcement agency.

Specifically identify funds for addressing the needs of those with physical and mental disabilities.

10.  We recommend the Board specifically allocate a portion of its AB 109 funds to the cost-effective legal and social services needed by inmates and former inmates with disabilities.  These services will help stabilize individuals in the community by connecting them with federal benefits, and will reduce the need for spending on costly jails and correctional staff.

11.  We specifically recommend and include within our budget proposals the creation of a disabilities resource coordinator position to work  inside the jail and in the community to ensure  screening and enrollment of  AB109 clients into public benefits programs for which they are eligible and to coordinate screening and service provision for AB109 clients.

12.  We further recommend that the Board to take affirmative steps to ensure that the reentry programs that it administers and funds do not discriminate against persons with disabilities.

13.  We further recommend that the Board reaffirm its commitment to non-discriminatory access to programs and services as well as reasonable accommodations both within county facilities and among service providers receiving county funds.

NARRATIVE FOR ALTERNATIVE BUDGET PROPOSALS

In the attached document (CCP_ACCCJR Budget Proposals_1.8.13final) , the Coalition has prepared two alternative budget scenarios budget for consideration by the BOS which reflect the recommendations above.

Revenues (Lines 1-12)

The first section of the alternative budget begins with an effort to document what the available funding is for 2012-13 fiscal year.  While we understand the new state allocation total $29.2 million, we believe that some supplemental funds from year one remain unallocated and/or unexpended including funds for training and planning.  To obtain an accurate picture of the funds available for year to meet various agency and client needs it is important to have a full and accurate accounting of first year expenditures.

Allocations by Goal Areas (Lines 14-18)

In the CPO’s November transmittal letter she refers to the recommended allocation of funds by goal area which we have entered into the budget document.  In another section of her letter, she details the total amount of the budget going to institutional partners and to community based services.  However, as noted in our budget document, the information available to us does not provide data for us to fill in the cells to determine what  mount of funds are proposed for each goal that would go to institutional partners and community based services.  This is important since it is our position that public protection is not the sole province of  law enforcement and public agencies and that we should be allocating resources to community-based service providers with the explicit recognition that their prevention and intervention services are key components of effectively protecting the public.

Budget Proposals and Recommendations (Lines 21-82)

In this section of our budget document we attempt to post information on the several budget recommendations being made by the CCP-EC as well as the two proposals being made by the Coalition.

First, in columns B and C, we set forth the CCP-EC recommendations on allocations including the purpose (Column A) and amount of each allocation. Column B includes the CCP-EC recommendations contained in the Procurement sub-committee report and approved by the CCP-EC in their October meeting. Column C contains the January 4, 2013 CPO transmittal letter recommendations on allocations. Please note that Column F also contains information on the CCP-EC recommendations as reflected in the transmittal letter of November 20, 2012.

We also have included sub-totals for each public agency as well as our calculations of the percentage of AB109 funds being allocated to law enforcement, community-based services and AB109 administration.  In Columns D and E, we present the primary (D) and secondary (E) recommendations of the Coalition on the allocations of funds.  We note that the January 4, 2013 CCP-EC recommendations do not contain the detail needed to mount the specific allocation data into the spreadsheet.  We highlight our continuing concern and recommendations regarding the necessity of budget allocation recommendations containing sufficient line item detail to determine the specific uses being proposed for the funds.  See our recommendation #2 on page 2.

Column F contains our notes regarding specific purposes for which the funds should be used as well as recommendations about what agency or organization should administer and manage the funds, especially where they entail the hire of personnel to support AB109 reentry services.  As we did with the CCP-EC recommendations in Column B, we have included sub-totals and percentages in our recommendations so that the reader can readily see where the proposed allocations stand relative to our recommendation that at least 40% of all funds be allocated to community-based service providers.

As the reader reviews our primary recommendations contained in Column D, our proposed allocations would exceed the minimum 40% level of funding for community based provision of programs and services, allocating almost 55% to these purposes.  Of special note is our proposal that a considerably higher proportion of all funds should be allocated to behavioral health care, employment and housing than is currently being recommended by the CCP-EC.  We also have recommended an allocation to probation for the hire of a realignment services coordinator and a disabilities services coordinator, as well as funds for evaluation and data systems development.

Secondary Budget Allocation Recommendations (Column E)

Our secondary recommendations are being offered over the objection of some Coalition members who vehemently oppose the use of any AB109 realignment funds to close public protection budget gaps, arguing that it is an inappropriate use of AB109 funds and, further, that such allocations are not justified in terms of documented additional costs to county public protection agencies.  However, in an effort to address the possibility that the funds have already been expended and the BOS is restricted in altering that prior decision, we offer the secondary proposal.  As reflected in Column E, we have reduced the amount of allocation for deficit reduction to $11 million, provided an additional $5.0 million to the Sheriff and Probation Departments leaving a total of $11.6 million for community-based services as detailed in the specific allocations.  We note that this proposal yields on slightly less than 40% of the AB109 allocation to community-based services.

We continue to express our interest and willingness to work with the Board of Supervisors, the CCP-EC and other county agencies to ensure that Alameda has an exemplary plan which uses funds effectively to improve public safety and reduce recidivism.  We believe this can be best accomplished by the recommendations we have set forth above and by the Board adopting our recommended allocations so that we can proceed expeditiously with the procurement process.

 

Thank you for your attention to these matters.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Junious Williams, Urban Strategies Council

On behalf of the Coalition

 

 

cc:

Susan Muranishi, County Administrator

LaDonna Harris, Chief Probation Officer

Members of the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee

Board of Supervisors Public Protection Staff

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Update on Alameda County AB109 Implementation Plan and Budget Allocations

I wanted to take an opportunity as we proceed into the holiday season to provide some quick updates folks regarding criminal justice reform efforts in Alameda County, especially the county’s efforts at AB109 planning and implementation

 Contributing to the ACCJR Blog

Got something to say about criminal justice reform in Alameda County? The ACCJR Blog invites you to submit guest postings for consideration as well as to actively comment on what we post.  If you are interested in becoming a guest blogger, either named or anonymous, please let me know at juniousw at urbanstrategies.org.

 Next Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform (ACCCJR) Meeting

The ACCCJR will meet in January to continue its work on recommendations for the year two AB109 plan and its alternative budget.  The meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 15, 2013 from 9:00am to 12:00.  Location to be determined and will be posted here.  The recent open meeting of the Coalition brought together folks with diverse criminal justice interests ranging from immigration to labor to drone opponents to juvenile justice advocates. If you are interested in receiving notices of Coalition meetings, please contact me at juniousw at urbanstrategies.org.

 

Appointment of New Public Defender

Congratulations to Brandon Woods for his appointment as the new Public Defender for Alameda County.  We look forward to working with him to improve the adults and juvenile criminal justice systems in the county.  Thanks to Diane Bellas for her service to the community as the outgoing Public Defender.

 

Yes, We Do Have a New Chief Probation Officer

Although many questions remain regarding how it happened, congratulations are in order to LaDonna Harris who has been appointed to the permanent position of Alameda County Chief Probation Officer (CPO) after serving as Interim CPO for the past few months.  We look forward to working with her as well to improve the functioning and outcomes of the criminal justice systems including putting fewer people into the system, keeping them in the system for shorter periods of time and increasing our effectiveness in supporting their transition back into the community.

 

AB109 Budget Allocation Update

The Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform has been actively engaged in efforts to get the County Board of Supervisors and the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee (CCP-EC) to re-think their proposed allocations of the $29.2 million dollars that the state is providing the county for implementation of AB109 Criminal Justice Realignment.   The Coalition members and other community stakeholders were successful in getting the Board of Supervisors not to move forward with the proposed allocations at their November 20th meeting and to refer the matter to the Public Protection Committee meeting of December 13, 2012.  Coalition members and others had an opportunity to present to the Public Protection Committee at that meeting and raise a variety of issues including the need for a year two plan, more transparency in the budgeting and decision making process, increased allocations to community-based services among others.  Supervisor Valle, who chairs the Public Protection Committee, encouraged the CCP-EC member agencies to meet with community stakeholders in an effort to address the concerns raised.

 

Year 2 AB109 Implementation Plan

One of the issues that the Coalition and others have raised is the importance of the CCP-EC to propose a year to plan to the Board as a guide for how funds should be allocated.  As the process has been proceeding, the Board is being asked to adopt a plan without formal presentation and adoption of a plan.  A plan is critically important foundation for allocation of the resources to ensure that funds are being allocated and expended consistent with the goals and priorities of a plan.  The latest document presented at the CCP-EC meeting is an outline of the plan document (Outline of Year 2&3 AB109 plan).  We have also received from our partners in Contra Costa County their plan which does a good job in closely linking action steps and priorities to the budget allocations (CCC AB109 Operations Budget Plan_Reccomendations_12.13.12).

 

Alternative Budget 

The Coalition is in the process of developing an alternative budget for the allocation of the $29.2 million in state funds coming into the county for realignment.  When the Coalition meets in early January we will be approving and releasing a draft of the alternative budget.  Stay tuned.

 

Transparency, Open Government and Accountability

For some time now, various members of the Coalition have attempted to obtain more detailed information on the allocation and expenditure of funds from the first year of AB109 when the county received 9.2 million in state funds.  The August 6th letter from the Coalition to the Board and the subsequent letter on September 20th requesting a response have gone unanswered.  Consequently, some members of the Coalition have worked on and submitted a public records act request to county officials requesting a variety of information that would help us and the community at large to understand how AB109 funds are being used and with what results.

 

Have a peaceful and happy holiday season.  See you in the new year.

 

 

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Guest Post by David Muhammad-Prison Realignment:Some Successes, Some Lost Opportunities,

One year into the sweeping criminal justice changes in California created by AB 109, known as Realignment, there are successes and failures, but more than anything else, there is significant unrealized potential.

Despite media reports to the contrary, Realignment did not cause the early release of any prison inmates. Instead, under Realignment, inmates in state prison for lower level offenses are released on their regularly scheduled release dates, to be supervised by county probation, as opposed to state parole. Additionally, as of October 2011, individuals convicted of lower level offenses (mostly drug and property crimes), are not sent to state prison, but must serve their time in county jails. And lastly, parolees who violate the terms of their parole and are re-incarcerated must be held in county jails instead of state prison.

In addition to realizing huge fiscal savings for the state, Realignment has resulted in the inmate population in the extremely overcrowded state prisons being significantly reduced. New quarterly figures released by CDCR show that, during the first nine months of Realignment, there has been a 39 percent reduction in new prison admissions and a drop of 26,480 in the prison population. And despite pockets of spiking, statewide crime rates continue to be at historic lows. The state’s motivation in advancing Realignment was to reduce skyrocketing prison costs and to comply with a Supreme Court directive to reduce the prison population; the state has more than realized these initial goals.

Though not the primary goal, Realignment is also good criminal justice policy.If implemented correctly, Realignment can and should result in significantly improved outcomes for both the individuals in the system that it effects and the broader community as a whole. Mass incarceration has proven to be both exorbitantly expensive and ineffective, both here in California and nationwide. Incarceration is not an adequate response for non-violent offenders who suffer mostly from drug addiction. This is largely the population that Realignment addresses.

It is too early to make any final judgments, but Realignment seems to be a success in some counties and very challenged in others. Some local jails have grown beyond capacity and some counties are so overwhelmed by the increased supervision responsibility that they are unable to invest either the human or fiscal resources in prevention and community based supports. In the alternative, other counties have expanded the combined array of community based services and employment opportunities that comprise the foundation of an effective, rehabilitative justice system.

When I served as Chief Probation Officer of Alameda County, I complained that the county which held the city with the highest crime rate in the state had been given the short end of the stick on funding. Alameda County received just $9 million the first year of Realignment, with some comparable sized counties receiving nearly three times as much. But this fiscal year, Alameda County got its just due and received $29 million.

But the question in counties throughout California is, how is Realignment being implemented and how are these funds are being utilized.

In Alameda County , there have been no major problems: The county jails are not full; there have been few new crimes committed by those realigned to probation supervision and far less than what the state’s record had been; and none of the government agencies have been too overburdened by the new responsibilities Realignment bring.

But, there has been a loss in opportunity. In this fiscal year, Alameda County has chosen to allocate the vast majority of its $29 million Realignment budget to incarceration – at least $22 million of it. Only a small two and a half percent of the funds have been planned for employment services, arguably the most critical need of this population. The number one need of this population is only due to receive $750,000 of a $29 million budget.

With the new development slated to begin at the Oakland Army Base, new BART trains being built, and many other new projects underway, there is huge potential for a meaningful employment program in the County. Realignment funds could be used to establish an effective job training program to ready the population to work on these sites and even to subsidize wages to ensure widespread hiring.

While it’s laudable that most counties, like Alameda, are not experiencing major operational or crime problems because of Realignment, the apparent resignation to mediocrity – when great success is possible – is disappointing.

(David Muhammad is the former Chief Probation Officer of Alameda County in California and the former Deputy Commissioner of Probation in New York City. He now consults with philanthropic foundations on criminal justice issues)

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Where is the second year Alameda County AB109 Criminal Justice Realignment Plan?

It is now December 1, 2012, the end of the second quarter of the fiscal year, and Alameda County has not approved its plan and budget for the second year of criminal justice realignment under AB109.  The consequences of this are many, but the most important is that without a plan, the County cannot initiate the process of contracting for the critical reentry services provided by community-based organizations.  Another consequence of lacking a plan is that we are without a plan to guide decisions about program and budget priorities for the current year.

At its October 1, 2012 meeting the Executive Committee, which is responsible for development of the plan for submission and approval by the Board of Supervisors, approved a proposed plan.  At the same time, the Executive Committee reviewed and approved a set of recommendations from the Procurement Committee which examined methods for expediting the procurement process for contracting with community-based organizations to provide services in critical areas such as employment, behavioral health care and housing.  For a copy of the proposed plan from the October 1, 2012 meeting and the recommendations of the Procurement Committee, see here (Procurement Committee for CCP Exec_9.17.12)

As reflected in my post of November 21, 2012, advocates were able to get the Board of Supervisors to postpone making budget allocation decisions at their November 20th meeting and, instead send the  allocations to the Public Protection Committee for consideration at their December 13, 2012 meeting.  Hopefully at that meeting the committee will review both the plan and the allocations so that they can be acted upon by the full Board at its next meeting.

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Did Board of Supervisors Appoint LaDonna Harris as Permanent Chief Probation Officer?

I must admit I  am confused about whether  or not the Board of Supervisors has appointed LaDonna Harris as the permanent Chief Probation Officer for the County.

According to a memorandum sent to Probation Department employees on Monday, November 26th by LaDonna Harris’ secretary, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) has appointed Harris as the new permanent Chief Probation Officer (CPO) CPO Appointment_11.26.12.

After receiving a copy of the memo on Monday, I made contact with staff in several BOS offices and they seemed unaware of any appointment, indicating that they had not seen the memo. Today we called county offices inquiring about whether there had been any appointment and subsequent press release.  At the time of this posting, we have not received any return calls.

This announcement is of special concern  since the Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform (ACCCJR) had inquired about the selection process in our August 6, 2012 letter to the Board of Supervisors and had recommended an open national search (that would include internal candidates) to select the new CPO ALACO Realignment Letter to BOS 8.6.12_final.  We have yet to receive a response to that letter.  Informal conversations with some BOS members indicated that there would be a national search.

The announcement is also surprising since those I have spoken with do not recall seeing a position announcement or any Board agenda item alerting the public to the fact that such a decision was under consideration.  In the previous recruitment of a CPO, there was ample opportunity for public input including an opportunity to meet with candidates for the position.

This action, on the part of the Board, if it has occurred, raises a couple of immediate  questions including: 1) Does this appointment meet legal requirements  and Board policies for appointment of an executive position? 2) What was the reasoning behind making an appointment of the Acting CPO, apparently without public notice and a recruitment process?

As I said in the beginning of this posting, I am confused.  Do we have a new CPO or not?  If you have any information, please let me and others know through comments.  Thanks.

 

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Board of Supervisors Postpones Action on AB109 Allocations; Upcoming meetings

Coalition and Board Actions

Last week the Board of Supervisors’ agenda contained items requesting Board action on the allocation of year two AB109 funds at its meeting on November 20, 2012. The Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform met on Thursday, December 16, 2012 and began a process of preparing comments and recommendations on the year two plan and proposed allocations, anticipating that we had some time to complete that process. The Coalition moved into action and prepared a set of interim comments and recommendations and sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors and Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee members requesting that the Board delay action on the recommended allocations Coalition Ltr to BOS on AB109 Allocations_11.19.12.  Our letter also included a number of recommendations, the most important of which is a call for the BOS to establish a funding formula which allocates a minimum of 40% of all AB109 funds to programs and services provided by nonprofit and faith organizations not affiliated with law enforcement of public agencies.  See our letter to the board for details on this and other recommendations.

 The ACLU of Northern California also submitted a letter to the Board expressing their concerns with the process of recommendations on allocations and whether the County could use $18.4 million of the AB109 funds to close a public protection budget gap Letter from ACLU to Board of Supervisors_Nov. 19 2012.

Many of our partners and others in the community spoke to the Supervisors to express their concerns regarding the budget allocations as well as the process and focus of AB109 Planning in the County.  Thanks to all who attended and spoke to the Board on this important matter.  Your presence and voices sent a clear message to the Board that we want AB109 realignment to be more than “business as usual” and are committed to working towards fair, just and effective criminal justice systems and practices in the County

Although the Board was poised for action, Supervisor Valle intervened with a request that the items be continued to permit the Public Protection committee, which he chairs, to consider the proposed allocations and provide an opportunity for public comment and participation before the allocation recommendations come to the Board.

 Upcoming Meetings

The next Public Protection Committee meeting is scheduled for December 13, 2012, 1:00pm in the Board Chamber at the County Building.

 In an effort to build out our coalition, we are scheduling a planning and strategy meeting for Dec. 4, 2012 from 9:00-12:00 at The California Endowment Conference Center at 1111 Broadway, 7th Floor.  At that meeting we will work on developing the Coalition, discuss the proposed second year AB109 Plan and allocation recommendations, develop our own proposals and plan strategy for the Public Protection Committee and next Board of Supervisors meeting when they consider the plan and allocations.

 Background Documents

To review the proposed year two plan, allocations and procurement committee  recommendations, see Procurement Committee for CCP Exec_11.19.12.

To review the agenda items on allocations recommendations from yesterday’s Board meeting, see the following:

The AB109 Agenda items include a general allocation letter from Acting CPO Harris (Item 30b) Probation_REC_ALLOCATION_YR2_AB109 FUNDS_11.20.12 as well as items from various agency directors including Health Care Services on the Realignment Innovation Fund (Item 30c) HCSA_Innovation Fund item_11.20.12, the Sheriff’s request for staffing funds (Item 30D)  Sheriff_Realignment_Budget_Adjustment_for_Detention_and_Corrections and Probation Dept’s request for staffing funds (Item 30E) FUNDING_PROBATION_STAFF_FROM_AB109 Funds

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About the Alameda County Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

Over the past several months, a number of organizations interested in criminal justice reform in the county and concerned about the progress in implementing AB109, decided to meet to discuss the status of i implementing the AB109 plan for the 2011-12 fiscal year (Criminal Justice Realignment Plan_11-2-11).

Based on concerns  and ideas expressed at that meeting, we formed the Coalition in an effort to organize community input into the plan and monitor implementation.  One of the first things the Coalition did was to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors raising concerns about several areas of implementation of the plan (ALACO Realignment Letter to BOS 8.6.12_final).  After receiving no response from the Supervisors or the Executive Committee, the Coalition sent a second letter to the Board of Supervisors and Executive Committee  on September 20, 2012  requesting a response to our letter of August 6, 2012 (See letter requesting a response here (9.20.12 BOS Ltr from Coalition).  As of today, we have yet to receive a response although our letter was on the agenda for the Executive Committee’s meeting of October 1, 2012.

Currently the Coalition is reviewing the proposed second year implementation plan and developing strategies for widening the circle of Coalition members and advocating for policy and service reforms, especially regarding how AB109 funds are used.  If you are interested in joining the Coalition, please contact me at juniousw at urbanstrategies.org.

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE ALAMEDA COUNTY CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM (ACCJR) BLOG

Oakland and Alameda County both face challenges and opportunities to make our communities safer and reduce the levels of violence. Three important areas for change include reentry, violence prevention and community policing. With criminal justice realignment under AB109, Alameda County has an important tool for positive change in policy and practice for those involved in the criminal justice system for those involved non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offenses. The City of Oakland is embarking upon its third try at implementing “ceasefire,” an evidence-based program that has demonstrated results in reducing gun violence in several cities across the nation, but has not gotten traction and impact in Oakland in the prior attempts. Realignment and ceasefire offer opportunities for Oakland and Alameda County to significantly impact the levels of violence and recidivism if we can work together to “get them right.” This blog is created to stimulate conversation and idea about what is happening, and should be happening, to get realignment, ceasefire and other strategies to reduce crime, violence and recidivism and to make our communities safer.

I will be kicking off the blog with some observations and questions about where Alameda County is regarding implementation of AB109. I will be inviting guest bloggers to join the conversation on AB109 and to begin a conversation on Oakland’s implementation of cease fire and on community policing, especially in light of the December 13, 2012 hearing before the federal district court regarding whether the Oakland Police Department should be placed in receivership. If you are interested in contributing to the blog, let me know at juniousw at Urbanstrategies.org.

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