California’s prison population drops quickly with AB 109

In one of the biggest changes in corrections in the United States in decades, California implemented AB 109, Public Safety Realignment in 2011. California had been wrangling with serious inmate overcrowding at state prisons for years. In fact, the inmate count had reached twice capacity in recent years. In the end, it was the courts that forced the issue with a law mandating that California must reduce its inmate count radically within a few years. At its core, AB 109 shifts responsibility for managing non-violent offenders back to counties.

The transition from state to local control of offenders began in earnest last fall. While there are kinks to work out in how counties manage these offenders and how this supervision will be funded, there is no question California is drawing down its inmate count rapidly.

In a recent annual report, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated the state prison population peaked at 173,479 inmates in October 2006. By the end of 2010, the population was down to 162,821. By October 2011, the count was down to 144,000; and just two months later, it was down to 137,000.

There are unprecedented changes taking place as CDCR experiences an overall reduction in its inmate population. As the population declines, CDCR says it will continue to review all options available to use resources efficiently. Some of the changes include converting existing facilities, both whole and in-part, staff reductions, and alternative custody options. California will achieve AB 109’s full impact in 2015, say state officials.

BI Incorporated has worked closely with counties implementing AB 109 solutions. As most counties do not have the funding or desire to add jail capacity – most are looking for solutions that include evidence-based practices – BI has been able to offer day reporting programs that deliver cognitive behavioral treatment programs, in-jail employment or treatment programs, even electronic monitoring equipment and services.

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