Alameda County shifts funding away from jail; focuses on rehabilitation

One county in California is looking to fund rehabilitation efforts in an effort to reduce the rate of recidivism.

The debate between the benefits of rehabilitation versus incarceration is a heated one, particularly for low-level, non-violent crimes. Although California continues to have high levels of incarceration, some counties are shifting some financial support away from prisons and funding rehabilitation programs. One example is Alameda County.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted on March 24, 2015 to shift funds away from imprisonment costs and focus instead on rehabilitation efforts. The move is designed to reduce the rate of recidivism, or those who complete a jail sentence only to relapse into criminal behavior.

More on the proposal

A recent article in the East Bay Express discussed the vote, noting that the shift will likely lead to significant changes in Alameda County. The funds that will be impacted by the vote are provided through Assembly Bill 109, also known as AB 109. This bill was passed by Governor Jerry Brown as a means to reform the criminal justice system with a focus on rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. However, according to the article, Alameda County used 62 to 77 percent of these funds for the sheriff's office not rehabilitation efforts. Generally, the sheriff's office funds jails. Advocates for funding the sheriff's office argue the financial support was needed to address the increase in the jail population. Critics contend that without community programs focused on rehabilitation, low-level offenders are more likely to reoffend and reenter the jail population in the future, thus perpetuating the cycle.

The Supervisors voted in favor of a proposal that called for a shift to occur beginning with the fiscal year, July 1, 2015. This shift is designed to result in 50 percent of the funds allocated through AB 109 to go towards "community based organizations working with the re-entry population." More specifically, funding would go towards the Transition Center, Community Capacity Building Fund and the Innovations in Re-Entry program.

The approval may be connected to the reduction in the overall jail population through recent years. This decline likely stems from changes made by AB 109 and Proposition 47 which both reduced the penalties associated with certain drug offenses and other nonviolent crimes.

Impact on those charged with crimes

The proposal and changes connected to AB 109 and Proposition 47 are just a few examples of the evolving nature of criminal law. These changes can have a significant impact on those who are charged with a crime. As a result, those facing charges are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will review the details of your case and tailor a defense strategy unique to your situation, working to protect your rights and better ensure a more favorable outcome.

Keywords: criminal defense