PPIC study reviews initial impact of historic California correctional changes

A new study published by the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California has found that the post-Public Safety Realignment period has greatly reduced state prison population counts but not caused dramatic changes in arrests or convictions of released offenders since the law changes were implemented three years ago.

The institute’s analysis showed that realignment has led to a 33 percent drop in the proportion of released inmates who are returned to state prison. A goal of realignment, also referred to as AB 109 legislation, was to reduce the ever-growing prison population in the state.  “Realignment has essentially ceased the flow of released inmates back to prison,” the report states.

Under the legislation, lower-level felony offenders are sentenced to county jails or are put under supervision rather than sent to prison. AB 109 went into effect in Oct. 2011.

The PPIC study found that while overall arrest rates are down slightly, the proportion of those arrested multiple times has increased by about 7 percentage points. This has lead researchers to believe these higher multiple arrest rates could reflect the increase in time that released offenders spend on the streets due to many counties’ limited jail capacity.

Instead of being sentenced to jail time, counties are directing many lower-level offenders to community supervision—emphasizing the need for successful reentry programs, like those run by GEO Reentry Services.

GEO Reentry works with more than a dozen counties throughout California to provide evidence-based reentry programming that empowers participants to become productive members of their communities upon their reentry into society.

At GEO Reentry-run day reporting centers, participants undergo cognitive behavioral therapy in an attempt to target the source of the criminal behavior. Participants also learn life skills, including GED, college and job preparation, so they have the tools to support their families and themselves without becoming involved in crime.

A portion of the day reporting programs run by GEO Reentry also provide substance abuse treatment, as substance abuse and crime are often linked.

To learn more about GEO Reentry’s approach, click here.

To read the PPIC study in full, click here.