Since the passage of Assembly Bill 109 last year, the populations of state prisons has reduced, and statistics show that crime in California has declined.
The state is at a 30-year low for violent crime and property crime. But those numbers may not hold up as California's prison populations downsize, parolees shift to local probation supervision, and some felons are sentenced to jails.
Leaders in all sectors of criminal law and enforcement are mitigating this problem. And so far, probation supervision has been relatively effective in regions throughout the state, said Cynthia Burke of the SD Association of Governments.
“Many of the people coming back for the probation supervision who aren’t going into the jails were coming back to our communities anyway,” Burke said. “They were under parole supervision and now they’re under probation supervision.
Expert Scott Silverman of toughlove.com says that improvement may be short-lived.
“The clock doesn’t start counting until they leave the facility; when they leave, recriminate, and then go back into the facility,” Silverman said. “At the end of the day we’re going to see crime go back up, because the economy is tough and that’s usually an indicator.”
Adding to those fears, county jails are filling up fast, said Greg Thompson of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
Before AB 109, the San Diego County Jails’ populations were at 4,000 with over 1,000 available beds. Now, the population is at 5,000. By summer, that number is expected to rise to 6,000. The department now must look at expanding. Yet that’s only a temporary fix to what may be a long-term problem.
“We can’t just build our way out of this,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to look for alternatives as well.”
To hear the rest of this conversation, as well as some heated political debate between party analysts about this year’s election, be sure to watch Politically Speaking with Gene Cubbison on NBCSanDiego.com.