You may have heard that CA was ordered to release tens of thousands of prisoners to deal with a level of overcrowding that is, apparently, unconstitutional. Even Jerry Brown is not eager to have a re-run of the soft-on-crime Seventies; but, since the one practical solution - that would be building some new prisons - is impossible in CA's can't-do society, prison "reform" is taking the form of releasing prisoners to county sheriffs.
Starting Monday, California will radically change the way it sentences criminals, sending the first of thousands to serve time behind bars in their local county jails instead of in state prisons.
Drug dealers, shoplifters and other felons deemed to be nonviolent or non-sex offenders will become wards of the counties in which they are convicted, under a plan signed in April by Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce the flow of inmates entering the overcrowded state prison system.
The plan also changes parole rules so that thousands of inmates who are released from state prisons will no longer be considered "parolees" nor be supervised by state parole officers. Instead those inmates who served time for nonviolent, non-sex offenses will be "probationers" who are monitored by county probation officers - and the supervision period will be shortened.
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten recently called Brown's plan the most "significant reform of California sentencing law in a generation."
Critics, meanwhile, have warned that the plan, known as realignment, will overwhelm counties with offenders who should be locked up in state prisons.
What's really lame about this - besides the state's refusal to pay for more than 9 months worth of jail-level incarceration - is that the counties will be just as ham-strung as the state. Want to bet that if some So-Cal sheriff decides to put his charges into tents that there'll will be an ACLU lawsuit and permanent injunction in place before the sun goes down? Instead of the state releasing criminals, now it will be county sheriffs, as if that makes a big difference.
What's especially galling (a lot of things have been galling me) is that this has become a back-door method of doing away with the three-strikes law, which is one of the few law & order initiatives that has bi-partisan appeal, at least among voters. Liberal politicians hate it, of course, and now they look to be on the verge of getting rid of it by refusing to build new prisons. Add this to the long list of CA woes that you can blame on liberals who seem electorally immune to the consequences of their lousy ideas.