prison.jpgSeveral district attorneys and other officials from counties around the Bay Area met in San Francisco Wednedsday to discuss recent California legislation that will soon put many offenders and parolees under local rather than state supervision.

AB 109, a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to address overcrowding in state prisons and the state’s large budget deficit, will apply to people convicted of nonviolent, non-serious offenses, as well as adult parolees and juvenile offenders.

The bill was signed into law in April and is set to go into effect on Oct. 1.

The move is estimated to save the state an estimated $1.4 billion but will likely cause added stress on county services, which was the reason for today’s meeting held at University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

District attorneys and chief probation officers from the nine Bay Area counties plus Santa Cruz County were among the attendees at this afternoon’s summit.

At a news conference before the gathering, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said “we are in the midst of a major transformation” and the goal of the meeting was the “sharing of information so we can learn from one another” on how to best prepare for the changes.

The summit planned to focus on pre-trial issues, sentencing, and revocations and reentry, according to the district attorney’s office.

Gascon said district attorneys have to look at new ways of prosecuting the non-violent cases, citing his own efforts in restorative justice with a neighborhood courts program that helps decide low-grade misdemeanor cases.

Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said he hoped the meeting helps bring clarity to the various officials because “when you get to the specifics of how (the law) will be implemented, that has yet to be determined.”

San Francisco Chief Probation Officer Wendy Still said she worried that the state is providing insufficient funding to the local jurisdictions, saying they are providing between 33 and 50 percent less money for realignment than they were paying to incarcerate or supervise the offenders.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi echoed that sentiment, saying the state is not adequately supporting its own program.

“It’s kind of like losing your job and having your broke cousin show up at your doorstep,” Adachi said. “Counties don’t have the money to support these programs, and unless we have sufficient resources from the state, realignment will not succeed.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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