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Innovative Probation Strategies, Split Sentencing will Prove Instrumental in Realignment
PublicCEO.Com, December 20, 2012

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The Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) released the second report on data collected from California’s 58 counties regarding the impacts of Public Safety Realignment from its implementation in October 2011 through June 2012. The data show a significant increase in caseloads for county probation departments, but also the need for evidence-based practices by probation officers and split sentencing by local judges to manage new offenders.

Part of the new caseloads for probation comes from counties using split sentences, which divide an offender’s sentence between time in jail and time under mandatory supervision. From October 2011 to June 2012, 23 percent of all local prison sentences were split sentences (even with this increase, data show an inconsistent use of split sentences in counties, which can limit their ability to reduce overcrowding in their jails and lead to less favorable outcomes using incarceration alone for offenders).

Realignment (AB 109) went into place in October 2011 in response to a mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce California’s prison population to 137.5 of capacity. The law shifts responsibility of certain people convicted of non-serious, non-sex, non-violent offenses from state prison and parole to county jails and probation.

According to CPOC data, county probation departments have taken on new responsibility for supervising more offenders since Realignment began. This includes 29,000 Post-Release Community Supervision offenders (people who have finished their term in state prison and now report to county probation) and 2,000 offenders supervised on mandatory supervision through probation as part of a split sentence. This is in addition to the existing population of 320,000 felony probationers.

Probation departments are utilizing evidence-based practices developed in recent years to more effectively manage risk and reduce recidivism among the people they supervise. This includes validated risk assessment tools, basing service referrals on the highest priority needs of the offenders, as well as increased coordination among law enforcement entities and combining probation supervision with treatment.

“The good news is that probation departments have been utilizing evidence-based practices before Realignment and that has helped us easily adapt to probation’s greater role in our new responsibilities,” said Marin Chief of Probation Michael Daly, “research has shown that conducting risk assessments, targeting specific needs of each individual and utilizing swift and certain sanctions actually work with this population. Probation is pleased that the Governor supports our efforts and has faith in Probation’s practices.”

To view the report, Mandatory Supervision: The Benefits of Evidence Based Supervision under Public Safety Realignment, please click on the following link:

http://www.cpoc.org/assets/Realignment/issuebrief2.pdf

For information on split sentencing, visit:

http://www.cpoc.org/assets/Realignment/splitsentencedashboard.swf

For statewide data trends, visit:

http://www.cpoc.org/assets/Realignment/dashboard.swf

For county data trends, visit:

http://www.cpoc.org/assets/Realignment/dashboard_county.swf

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