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Brown Praises Counties’ Creativity In Implementing Realignment

Speaking to a law enforcement convention in Sacramento Wednesday, the governor praised counties’ creativity under realignment in the two and a half years since it took effect. Under the program, the state shifted responsibility for low-level offenders to counties.

“Counties are stepping up to the plate and they’re really making realignment work. And it’s working at the local level in different ways,” Brown said.

But the governor signaled he’ll be open to making some changes to realignment once it’s been in place long enough to identify potential improvements. Brown suggested mental health and drug treatment need attention. And law enforcement groups have another change in mind.

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern says any offender sentenced to more than five years behind bars should serve that time in state prison. “Some counties have people sentenced to over 40 years at the county jail, and that’s just not what the county jail was built for or meant for, and should be adjusted rather quickly,” Ahern said after the governor spoke.

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse echoes the sheriff’s concern on long-term county jail sentences. As for realignment in general, “It’s not an unqualified success. It’s not a failure. We’re somewhere in the middle.”

Morse says until there can be a clear measurement of how California’s recidivism rate has changed under the new system, the jury on realignment will remain out.

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