Initial data was released by the Chief Probation Officers of California about “Realignment.” Realignment was the radical sentencing reforms passed in October of 2011 that shifted much responsibility for incarceration and supervision from the state to the counties. According to the Chief Probation Officers, initial data is encouraging. Felons released to local community supervision have had a lower rate of failing to report and falling into fugitive status than those released to traditional state Parole.
The gamble made by those who passed Realignment is that local communities can do a better job of following and reintegrating released felons than the State. Only time will tell, however, whether Realignment makes an actual change to law enforcement and punishment, or is just the proverbial passing of the buck from Sacramento to the counties.
Here in Alameda County, I haven’t seen any new sensible alternatives to jail, which is what the authors of Realignment intended. Realignment authorizes the counties to put in place home detention and electronic monitoring programs as substitutes for statutorily mandated jail time and bail. So far, Alameda County has done nothing. It is a no-brainer that a person convicted of a third DUI and sentenced to 120 days in county jail would have less of a chance of reoffending, if, instead of being condemned to a jail cell during that time, he were given electronic home detention and an alcohol sensor. I’ll keep you posted about what Alameda and other Bay Area counties are doing to explore feasible alternatives to jail.