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Follow the Money: How California Counties Are Spending Their Public Safety Realignment Funds

NCJ Number
247086
Date Published
Author(s)
Jeffrey Lin Ph.D., Joan Petersilia Ph.D.
Annotation
This study examined California counties’ spending reports and budgets to determine which counties emphasize enforcement and which emphasize treatment in their expenditure of State funds under “Realignment” (Assembly Bill 109), which shifted from the State to the counties the responsibility for managing non-violent, non-serious offenders.
Abstract
Under Realignment legislation, the State will distribute $4.4 billion to the counties by 2016-2017 in order to assist the counties in managing offenders formerly managed by the State. Underlying this effort is the State’s attempt to reduce the number of incarcerated offenders and expand the number and quality of community-based supervision at the local level. Although the Realignment legislation directs counties to use the State fund for community-based programs, counties have retained a substantial amount of spending discretion. This study of how California counties are spending these funds found that some counties are expanding offender treatment capacities, but other counties are using these funds to enhance enforcement and control systems. The analysis of these findings determined that counties that have decided to allocate more AB 109 funds to enforcement and control generally are responding to local criminal justice needs, including high crime rates, a shortage of law enforcement personnel, and a tradition of using incarceration to punish drug offenders. Counties that favored a greater investment in offender treatment and services, on the other hand, are typified by strong electoral support for the Sheriff and relatively under-funded district attorneys and probation departments. 13 tables, 6 figures, 37 references, and appended county plan mention and depth coding, qualitative county plan coding details, univariate descriptive statistics, alternate spending unit analyses, and determination of Pre-AB 109 control orientation
Date Created: June 30, 2014