For AB 109, California judges favor split sentencing

Recently, California Forward’s Partnership for Community Excellence—an organization that supports California counties in implementing AB 109 Public Safety Realignment—met with criminal justice leaders for a roundtable discussion on split sentencing. Attendees unanimously agreed split sentencing is a helpful corrections tool that should be more widely utilized.

Split sentencing, which was introduced by AB 109, allows judges to split an inmate’s sentence between jail time and community supervision. By reducing the amount of time an offender spends in jail, which is more expensive than community supervision, split sentencing has the potential to save taxpayers money. Rehabilitation and treatment options offered during supervision can also help reduce the likelihood an offender will commit additional crimes.

Many community corrections leaders in California are optimistic about split sentencing, including former judge and current District Attorney for Riverside County Paul Zellerbach. Zellerbach asserts that split sentencing allows judges to tailor sentences to each individual and their unique circumstances. Judge Stephen Manley of the Santa Clara Superior Court strongly supports split sentencing and hopes over time, it becomes more widely employed.

Judge Brian Back of the Ventura County Superior Court agrees with Judge Manley, and believes split sentencing has the opportunity to benefit the offender and the community; by rehabilitating offenders and reducing recidivism, community supervision enhances public safety.

AB 109 California Public Safety Realignment was passed in 2011 and moved non-serious, nonviolent offenders to the county level. Under AB 109, more of these offenders undergo a period of community supervision. BI Incorporated works with counties throughout California and the U.S. to help agencies to monitor or provide treatment and training to probationers in the community. BI offers treatment programs tailored to each individual’s needs, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to change criminal thinking and behavior.