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Voices from the Field: How California Stakeholders View Public Safety Realignment

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2014
14 pages
Based on interviews with 125 criminal justice practitioners in California's municipal and county agencies, as well as associated mental health and victim services agencies, this study examined their views of the State's "Realignment" policies instituted in 2011, which involve shifting responsibility from the State to the counties for managing certain lower level offenders and parolees.
Many stakeholders expressed a realistic perspective toward Realignment, noting that such a radical change takes time, and achieving the intended results. i.e., more effective criminal justice services, requires persistent effort and patience. The interviews revealed that counties are struggling to fulfill their newly imposed responsibilities; however, respondents agreed that Realignment is here to stay and that the old system was yielding unsatisfactory and even abusive results. In presenting the findings of the interviews, this report distinguishes the findings from probation staff, public defenders and prosecutors, police, county sheriffs, and judges. Despite distinctive differences in the views expressed, however, several common concerns and suggested revisions emerged from the interviews. The most frequently mentioned suggestions were to create a statewide tracking database for offenders under probation supervision in the counties; allow an offender's criminal history to be taken into account when determining whether the county or State will supervise a parolee; and cap county jail sentences at 3 years. 6 notes

Date Published: January 1, 2014