Widgets Magazine

Stanford Criminal Justice Center awarded $650,000 to study prison legislation

The Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC) has been awarded a number of grants totaling $650,000 to fund research on California’s Public Safety Realignment Legislation, which transfers revenue and responsibilities from state to local governments. According to SCJC Director Robert Weisberg, the Center hopes to help the state “get Realignment right.”

The 2011 Public Safety Realignment legislation, implemented on Oct. 1, provided $6.3 billion to local governments and transferred authority for non-violent felons from the state prison and parole system to local counties in an effort to reduce the chronic overcrowding in the California prison system.

The SCJC will use the grants to fund research on the effects of the Realignment. Researchers expect to share findings by late summer 2013 or fall 2013 with key policymakers including the Board of State and Community Corrections, the California State Legislature, the California Attorney General and the Office of the Governor.

“For too long, the state’s prison system has been a revolving door for lower-level offenders and parole violators who are released within months — often before they are even transferred out of a reception center,” Governor Jerry Brown said in a 2011 press release upon signing the Realignment legislation. “Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision.”

Four research projects will be directly funded by the new grants: an analysis of all 58 counties’ approaches to realignment, case studies of specific counties, a statewide judges and prosecutors discretion study and a study of front-end effects and best practices.

“Through our research, we want the data to tell us exactly what the effects are of shifting responsibility and discretion from the state to the county — how that impacts rates of incarceration versus probation supervision versus community programs, and so on,” said Robert Weisberg, professor of Law and faculty co-director of the SCJC, in an interview with the Stanford Law School news service.

The new grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, James Irvine Foundation and Public Welfare Foundation.

Stanford Law School affiliates also authored Proposition 36, a ballot initiative which passed on Tuesday. The proposition amended California’s three-strikes law and is projected to decrease prison overcrowding.

                                         -Natasha Weaser

  • MarleyMason

    Joan Petersilla of SCJS can begin researching the legislation she helped construct and implement by watching the below video on AB 109.