Yesterday, Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez introduced AB 1449, also to be known as the Realignment Omnibus Act of 2014. The bill, if passed, would significantly regress the achievements of realignment and increase overcrowding in state prisons. Here’s what it purports to do:
(1) Under existing law, certain specified felonies are punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years or, where the term is specified, for the term described in the underlying offense. Notwithstanding these provisions, existing law requires that a sentence be served in state prison where the defendant has a prior or current conviction for a serious or violent felony, has a prior felony conviction in another jurisdiction that has all of the elements of a serious or violent felony, is required to register as a sex offender, or has an aggravated white collar crime enhancement imposed as part of the sentence.
This bill would additionally require a sentence to be served in the state prison when the defendant is convicted of a felony or felonies otherwise punishable in a county jail and is sentenced to an aggregate term of more than 3 years.
(2) Existing law requires that all persons released from prison after serving a prison term for a felony, be subject to postrelease community supervision provided by a county agency for a period of 3 years immediately following release, except for persons released after serving a term for a serious felony, a violent felony, an offense for which the person was sentenced pursuant to the 3 strikes law, a crime where the person is classified as a high-risk sex offender, or a crime where the person is required to undergo treatment by the State Department of State Hospitals because the person has a severe mental disorder. Existing law requires these persons to be subject to parole supervision by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation following release from state prison and the jurisdiction of the court in the county in which the parolee is released, resides, or in which an alleged violation of supervision has occurred.
This bill would also require any person who is released from prison who has a prior conviction for any of the above crimes to be subject to parole supervision by the department and the jurisdiction of the court in the county in which the parolee is released, resides, or in which an alleged violation of supervision has occurred.
(3) Existing law, the Postrelease Community Supervision Act of 2011, requires certain inmates released from state prison to be subject to 3 years of supervision by a county agency. The act provides that if the supervising county agency has determined, following application of its assessment processes, that authorized intermediate sanctions are not appropriate, the supervising county agency is required to petition the revocation hearing officer to revoke and terminate postrelease supervision of the inmate. Existing law allows the revocation hearing officer to order the person to confinement in a county jail for a period not to exceed 180 days, among other sanctions. This bill would, if the person has been found to have violated the conditions of postrelease community supervision on 2 or more prior occasions, allow the revocation hearing officer to revoke and terminate postrelease community supervision and order the person to confinement in the state prison for a period of one year.
What this means, in plain speech, is that the definition of “non-non-non” offenses, which now trigger judicial discretion to sentence a person to jail or to mandatory supervision, will dramatically change, sentencing people who received longer prison sentences to state institutions. That may not be all tragic, as many jails are very poorly equipped to handle people who are sentenced for long periods; but many of those folks shouldn’t go in for such long sentences in the first place, and this would only solidify that.
It also means that the idea behind realignment, to supervise people locally in their communities, will be rolled back, and state parole will receive some of the power it lost back from county probation departments, some of whom did a stellar job retooling supervision as an instrument of reentry and hope.
This is a very disappointing bill, and for your good deed of the day, please call your representatives in the Assembly and Senate and tell them how you feel.