Today at Hastings: Realignment Panel

Today, UC Hastings will host a panel about the realignment. The panel is free and open to the public. Details:

When: 10/27/2011, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Where: 200 McAllister, Alumni Reception Center (2nd floor)

  • Chief Presiding Judge Lisa Novak—San Mateo County
  • Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rubin—Alameda County
  • Assistant Public Defender Don Landis—Monterey County
  • Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus Jeanne Woodford

Moderated by UC Hastings Professor Kate Bloch.

Panel and Q&A to be followed by a wine reception. Please RSVP to

KALW Show on Realignment Podcast

Yesterday I spoke on KALW with Keramet Reiter and the Chronicle’s Marisa Lagos about the realignment. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Director of Probation David Muhammad called in, and it was, all in all, a literate and informative discussion. A full podcast of the show can be found on the City Visions website or by opening this file.

Jail expansion: Counties seek millions from state

Check out today’s SF Chronicle cover story, “Jail expansion: Counties seek millions from state,” and especially its ending:

Lenard Vare, director of Napa County’s Department of Corrections, said he agrees with advocates that incarceration isn’t the only answer. But the rural county also anticipates an increase of at least 70 inmates per year – and its jail is already over capacity.

“The old adage ‘If you build it, they will come’ is true, because law enforcement in general – police officers – come with the mind-set to fight crime, and arresting people is one of the ways to fight crime,” he said. “Unless we decide to simultaneously work on our overall criminal justice system … we are not going to make a difference. Locking someone up 50 times does not deter them from committing crimes, because it becomes a way of life.”

Realignment Starts Monday

A great story by the Chron’s Marisa Lagos explains the realignment. The piece is a must-read in its entirety and I highly recommend it. I want to highlight one pierce people may not have been attentive to: The important role probation officers will play.

Realignment is not just a numbers game. Under the new law, counties have been given new legal tools meant to help them get at the root issues that lead to criminal behavior.

Most of those tools consist of increased flexibility for judges, prosecutors and probation officers in deciding how to punish a person.

For example, in the past, if a drug offender failed to meet the terms of his probation, the only real option a probation officer had was to send him back to court, where a judge would consider whether to ship him back to prison or jail – a long, ambiguous process that resulted in delayed punishment.

But research shows that open-ended, uncertain punishments do not encourage criminals to change their behavior. What does, according to experts, are swift and certain sanctions – such as a tactic known as “flash incarceration,” in which an offender is jailed for a day or two almost immediately after violating the terms of their probation.

Under realignment, a probation officer could make this decision without sending the person back to court. And, the probation officer can tailor the punishment to an offender’s work schedule, so they don’t lose their job.

Judges will also now be allowed to mandate a split sentence – combining jail time with at-home detention, drug abuse treatment or parenting classes, for example.

Marisa Lagos, Keramet Reiter, and I will participate in an hour-long conversation about the California correctional crisis on KALW tomorrow at 7pm. Tune in, call in with your questions, and join the conversation.