One in three offenders in San Diego County jails were sent there because of AB 109, a public safety realignment law that went into effect in 2011, according to a new study by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Decision.
Due to AB 109, counties were given the responsibility for housing, supervising and rehabilitating certain offenders. AB 109 also reduced state prison populations by sentencing non-violent or non-sexual offenders to county jail instead of state prison.
But Susan Fisher, Former Chairwoman of California State Parole Board says that is not the best option for all offenders.
“The fact that their last crime before they were put into jail happened to be a non-serious, non-violent offense, doesn’t change who they are,” she said.
According to the SANDAG study, San Diego County’s jail populations are mostly male, slightly older, and include more minorities. There are also a higher percentage of offenders who require more protective custody.
The study also found that there are 30 fewer bookings per day. This could be attributed to Proposition 67, which changed certain types of property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.
But Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director of Criminal Justice Research at SANDAG says AB 109’s impact on the local detention centers did more than just effect numbers.
“Even though there [are] fewer bookings, people are staying longer, they're requiring more services,” Dr. Burke said. “There's a greater risk for deputies who are supervising or probation officers in the community because [the offenders] are more criminally sophisticated and have a higher risk of recidivating.”
One in five individuals in San Diego County jails were offenders who would have been sent to state prison prior to AB 109.
“We wanted to emphasize how the systems have changed even if the numbers are fewer. Even though crime is at historic lows, we do have a greater offender population with high level needs here,” Dr. Burke told NBC 7.
She says at any given time, there are about 5,000 offenders booked into San Diego County jails and 11,000 people on probation.