California recently passed an historic incarceration reform by voter approval of Proposition 47. What does it mean for public safety and law enforcement in Shasta County?
58% of Shasta County voters rejected Proposition 47, but it still passed by a margin of 59% yes to 41% no in the State as a whole.
According to Brian Elderbroom and Ryan King of The Urban Institute Metro Trends, California’s Proposition 47 builds on changes of prison realignment over the past several years, “reducing criminal penalties and reinvesting the savings in truancy prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victims’ services. Specifically, Proposition 47 raises the felony theft threshold for shoplifting, fraud, and other minor property offenses to $950 and reclassifies drug possession for personal use as a misdemeanor offense—capping the punishment at one year of incarceration in a local jail.
Redding and Anderson’s Police Chiefs and Shasta County Sheriff are not happy about the passage of Proposition 47 because of already inadequate local funding for staffing police officers/sheriff deputies and inadequate County jail capacity. Anderson will get additional sales tax funding support, but only 56% of Redding voters approved of Proposition F rather then the 2/3 required.
According to critics, Public Safety Realignment resulting from AB 109 has already placed a burden on local law enforcement. AB 109, which became effective October 1, 2011, mandated that individuals sentenced to “non-serious, non-violent or non-sex offenses will serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison.”
Shasta County’s allocation of State funding for public safety realignment was $6.3 million for FY 2012-13; $7.4 million for FY 2013-14; and $6.9 million for FY 2014-15. In addition in FY 2013-14 Shasta County received $424,896 in growth funding.
A Shasta County Community Corrections Partnership, composed of The Interim Chief Probation Officer (Chair), Redding’s Chief
of Police Sheriff Bosenko, the District Attorney, Public Defender, Melissa Fowler-Bradley (presiding Judge of the Superior Court), and a county health and human service representative have been appointed by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors.
How well has it worked out? The March 2014 CCP Report noted that “local law enforcement, the county jail and the courts were already strained, and much of the system was overwhelmed. It is difficult to completely measure the impact of AB 109.”
Lack of jail capacity is a serious problem according to law enforcement officials. Total capacity of the County Jail is 381 beds, which when operating at 90% capacity is 343 beds. Approximately 80% of jail inmates are awaiting trial. With 20-60 new arrests per day, the Community Corrections Center is put in the difficult position of deciding who are the “best of the worst” that will have to be released on a daily basis in order to just accommodate the “worst of the new arrests.” This means that some offenders and people charged with a crime who fail to appear in court are released to the streets rather than kept in jail where they should be.
“Criminal offenders have come to understand that they will not stay in custody in the county jail to await their court appearances. Failures to appear in court following these capacity releases also suggest continued defiance of the criminal justice system. This results in an underutilization of the rehabilitative services and programs…”
The Community Corrections Center/Day Reporting Center opened at Court and Tehama Streets in Redding on April 8, 2013. The CCC/DRC primarily serves offenders identified as “moderate to high risk to re-offend.” Additional services continue to be developed for this population that particularly target the offender’s top three criminogenic needs, including:
The CCP report acknowledges that “there are few providers available locally to meet these specific needs. Additional efforts will have to be made to continue developing resources to support these needs.”
Redding police department has 98 sworn officers, compared with 117 in 2007 prior to the recession. Currently 14 officers are out on disability leave. According to Chief Paoletti, they are “operating in reactive rather than proactive mode.”
Things are in the works to address this public safety problem. It is my understanding that newly elected Redding City Council are already meeting with citizens supportive of a 1/2 cent sales tax and an agenda to provide public safety solutions beyond those proposed by Proposition F.
Several events are occurring in Redding, CA this week that address the well-being of those of us who live in Shasta County from several different perspectives:
According to proponents, Proposition 47 was design to “stop government waste and redirects hundreds of millions from prison spending to K-12 and treatment: California counties will save hundreds of millions annually and state prison reductions will generate between $750 million to $1.25 billion in savings over the next five years alone. Those savings will be shifted into K-12 school programs (25%), victim services (10%) and mental health and drug treatment (65%):
The creation of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund will be funded at every fiscal year starting on July 31, 2016. No quick fixes.