prison.jpgA bill recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown will put some state prison inmates under the control of counties, and a San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee held a hearing today on the possible local impact that legislation could have.

The board’s public safety committee held a hearing today on the possible impacts of AB 109, which was signed into law on April 4 and will take effect on July 1.

Under the new legislation, people convicted of nonviolent, non-serious offenses, as well as adult parolees and juvenile offenders, would fall under local jurisdiction rather than the state.

“Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision,” Brown said in a statement after signing the bill into law.

But Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the chair of the public safety committee, said today that the move “is going to tax our already-distressed infrastructure.”

Paul Henderson, Mayor Ed Lee’s policy advisor for public safety, agreed, saying, “the system we have today is not going to work four months from now.”

Mirkarimi said the new law will likely mean the return of up to 700 inmates, roughly 40 percent of San Franciscans that were sent to state prison, over the course of the next year or so.

San Francisco’s chief probation officer Wendy Still said her department already has extremely high caseloads, and said that number would increase by about 25 percent under the new legislation.

The move is expected to save the state about $485 million, but Brown said he will not allow the legislation to be enacted until counties are ensured of funding to take on the additional inmates.

Mirkarimi said, though, that the funding “is predicated on real fragile variables,” including a proposed measure on the November ballot asking Californians for a tax extension.

He said he wanted to hold a hearing on the issue because city officials are already holding preliminary budget discussions “and there is no mention of this whatsoever.”

Mirkarimi could be dealing with the problem from another position after November’s election. He is running for San Francisco sheriff to replace Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who announced in February that he is not seeking reelection after 31 years in the position.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department oversees the county’s jail operations.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Pray4Peace

    We are going bankrupt over unreasonable sentencing and other greed. We cannot continue locking up people at the rate and for the length of time we do now. We need alternative punishment and to begin crime prevention through education or whatever really early.

    Who profits from failed criminal justice and horrifically overcrowded prisons that are bankrupting states across the nation?

    District attorneys and prosecutors who are promoted for winning cases and harsh sentences at any cost;
    Tough-on-crime scare tactic politicians hoping for votes;
    Guard employee unions;
    For-profit-contract-bed-privatized-corporation prisons that profit not from reforming people, but when the recidivism rate goes up;
    Parole department in California where everyone released is on parole;
    Three strikes law that sends people to prison for 25+ years over petty crimes like stealing a pizza;
    The bail bond industry that benefits from unnecessary criminal justice practices that increase incarceration;
    Rigged line-ups that get faulty convictions and promote detectives;
    Requirement to check prior-arrest/conviction boxes on employment, government, and rental applications for those who have been crime-free for years;
    The list goes on…..

    The Donovan prison in San Diego found a way to save lots and lots of money.

    Their rehab, drug, and education programs reduced their recidivism rate from
    70%! to 21%. Not only did the programs save salvageable lives, and the cost of
    so many ex-offenders returning to prison, but most important they reduced new
    crime and new victims.

    Using faulty logic and false economy funding for the programs was almost
    eliminated, How many new crimes would have been prevented if that decision had
    not been made?

    By the way, Those convicted of murder are the least likely to recomit a crime
    once released.