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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What 2015 holds for Calif. corrections

CorrectionsOneSeveral things have been noteworthy in the Corrections environment in California this year.

Realignment is still running strong, if not straight and true. Governor Brown got an extension on the prison population cap from the federal courts, but part of the deal was no further extensions, delays or appeals. This situation has been eased somewhat by the more-or-less opening of two very large prison hospitals outside of Stockton with a total bed count of about 3,200.

I say more-or-less as intake was shut down into the larger facility by order of the federal receiver, who also ordered that the smaller hospital not open, until they could demonstrate they could function. These facilities are still not hospitals in the traditional sense as surgery and a great many other things are done outside the facility, resulting in large numbers of expensive and difficult to schedule transports every day.

Recent court action has effectively further decriminalized drug crimes. The biggie, however, has been Proposition 47, which was passed by the voters by a very wide margin on November 4.

This initiative reclassifies many former felonies as misdemeanors and allows persons currently in prison for these felonies to petition for resentencing. This will effectively move about 5,000 people from state prison to the streets, possibly in very short order. The process has in fact started in both the state system and many jurisdictions, even before the vote tally is official.

This proposal effectively moves more and more formerly felonious criminal conduct into the realignment arena. That means those sentenced under the new law will do time in local custody rather than state prison. Due to serious local overcrowding in most jurisdictions it may mean many will serve only a small fraction of their sentence.

One of the more interesting effects of this change (for the benefit of those who voted for this proposal) is that, if a person is found in the possession of a stolen firearm of value under $950 dollars, the officer can do nothing but seize the firearm and write a citation for the suspect to appear in court. continue reading...

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