One of the declared purposes of the Realignment was to benefit from the added rehabilitative value of doing time within one’s community, close to one’s family and social network, and in the context of one’s future housing and job opportunities upon release. But this concept turns out to be more malleable than we might’ve thought in 2011. A new bill, AB 1512, aims at allowing counties to import/export inmates from/to other counties. The introduction to the bill elaborates:
Existing law, until July 1, 2015, authorizes the board of supervisors of a county, where, in the opinion of the county sheriff or the director of the county department of corrections, adequate facilities are not available for prisoners, to enter into an agreement with any other county whose county adult detention facilities are adequate for and accessible to the first county and requires the concurrence of the receiving county’s sheriff or the director of the county department of corrections. Existing law also requires a county entering into a transfer agreement with another county to report annually to the Board of State and Community Corrections on the number of offenders who otherwise would be under that county’s jurisdiction but who are now being housed in another county’s facility and the reason for needing to house the offenders outside the county.
This bill would extend the operation of those provisions until July 1, 2020.
Existing law, operative July 1, 2015, authorizes a county where adequate facilities are not available for prisoners who would otherwise be confined in its county adult detention facilities to enter into an agreement with the board or boards of supervisors of one or more nearby counties whose county adult detention facilities are adequate for, and are readily accessible from, the first county for the commitment of misdemeanants and persons required to serve a term of imprisonment in a county adult detention facility as a condition of probation in jail in a county that is party to the agreement. Existing law, operative July 1, 2015, requires these agreements to provide for the support of a person so committed or transferred by the county from which he or she is committed.
This is not a particularly original solution to jail overcrowding. After all, we already export thousands of CA inmates to other states, where they are housed in private facilities. Compared to the uprooting and difficulties of out-of-state incarceration, this is really small potatoes. On the other hand, at least with state prisons there was no pretense of trying to rehabilitate people close to their communities. California is a very large state; a family visit to Corcoran or Pelican Bay requires many, many hours of driving from the Bay Area. Large scale import/export of inmates by counties wishing to utilize their facilities to improve their budgets works against the idea of local justice, frustrating one of the purposes of Realignment.