California's Crisitunity


California’s Public Safety Realignment has created what Homer Simpson would call a crisitunity (crisis + opportunity = crisitunity). With an increasing number of convicted individuals serving time in county jails, authorities have had to reexamine their local criminal justice systems. What they’re finding is an amazing opportunity in the midst of a crisis.

California has one of the highest pretrial incarceration rates in the country with over 70% of jail inmates awaiting trial, an increase of over 12% since the mid 90s.[1] Many of the individuals are in jail not because they are a danger to society or because they are a flight risk, but simply because they cannot afford bail.

Places like Yolo County are doing something about the large number of pretrial detainees. They have worked with stakeholders in their community to establish a pretrial services program. The program consists of a risk assessment tool and supervision of individuals prior to trial.  The County has seen great results from the program with 92% of individuals showing up to court and 95% not committing a new crime. The combination of quality risk assessment and supervision has strengthened stakeholder and community support of a program that is increasing the number of people waiting for their day in court in the community, not in jail.[2]

[1]Hopper, A., Dooley-Sammuli, M., & Evens, K. Public Safety Realignment: California at a Crossroads. ACLU of California, March 2012.

[2]Aungst, S. Pretrial Detention & Community Supervision: Best Practices and Resources for California Counties. California Forward, September 2012.

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