Measure to Collect More Data on Effects of Public Safety Realignment Passes First Legislative Hurdle with Bipartisan Support

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Leading the call of public safety experts, auditors and academics, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) introduced a legislative measure requiring counties to collect data to accurately assess the workings of California’s prison realignment. At the presentation before the Senate Public Safety Committee, Senate Bill 1097 received unanimous bipartisan support.

“Since the passage of realignment, there’s been much debate about its progress,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen. “Currently, there’s no statewide mechanism to collect data and, therefore, no access to reliable evidence-based data.”

“Collecting data from counties that are implementing the state’s mandate will provide the Governor and Legislature a better, more accurate picture of the program’s impact, and help us make better decisions moving forward,” Senator Nielsen added.

In 2011, the Governor signed into law Assembly Bill 109, also known as the prison realignment plan. This measure created a program requiring counties to incarcerate or find alternative programs for tens of thousands of drug dealers, burglars and other habitual felons who would have been sentenced to state prison prior to realignment. In addition, counties have also been given responsibility for many of California’s most violent felons when they violate parole after their release from state prison.

Inspired by the ongoing research from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Senate Bill 1097 is a bipartisan measure to require and provide resources to counties to collect information relating to arrestees who fall under the guidelines of AB 109.

If passed and signed into law, SB 1097 would collect data regarding the inmates’ arrests, rehabilitation enrollment, vocational training, employment, family and mentoring support among many other facts.

Senator Nielsen's goal is provide lawmakers with more reliable and meaningful realignment data to effectively monitor the prison realignment plan’s progress.

In its report, PPIC stated, “Because AB 109 establishes no incentives, resources, or standards for counties to measure outcomes, it will be difficult to assess what California’s most significant justice reform in decades has achieved.”

The Senate Public Safety Committee today passed SB 1097 with a vote of seven to zero. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its consideration.

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