AB 109 is DANGEROUS - Crime Victims Action Alliance

Governor Brown signed AB 109 – the Criminal Justice Realignment Bill into law on April 5, 2011.
Governor Brown stated in his signing message on AB 109 - "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," Brown said in his AB 109 signing
message. "Cycling these offenders through state prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions,
thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision."
The Administration is blaming prison overcrowding on the number of parole revocations for technical
violations of parole (for example – not showing up for a parole appointment). Though this sounds good,
it simply isn’t true. Actually, only sixteen percent (16%) of parolees returned to custody involve cases
based on a technical violation of parole1, and of those, many of those “technical” violations are gang
activity, violating no contact orders in place to protect victims of crime, and non-compliance by sex
offenders with the terms and conditions of their parole.
The overwhelming majority of prison inmates have either committed a serious or violent felony or have
been convicted of numerous felonies and have failed to curtail their criminal behavior even after several
grants of felony probation
By its terms, AB109 will not go into effect until a community corrections grant program is created by a
yet to be enacted future statute and funding is appropriated. The Governor stated "I will not sign any
legislation that would seek to implement this legislation without the necessary funding”.
However, no minimum funding requirement has been specified and therefore – it is uncertain what
“necessary funding” really means. By its terms AB 109 could become operative even if only a portion of
the funding local law enforcement would need to continue to ensure the safety of the public given the
additional areas of responsibility AB 109 placed on them is appropriated.
“Parole Violations and Revocations in California,” Ryken Grattet, Ph.D., Joan Petersilia, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Lin, Ph.D, October 13, 2008, pg. 18. 1809 S Street, #101316 Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-273-3603 Toll Free/Fax: 888-235-7067 Email: [email protected]
A few facts about this new law:
AB 109 shifts thousands of criminals from our state prisons to our overcrowded local jails
Under the terms of AB 109, most “non-serious” “non-violent” crimes will be punishable by imprisonment
in our already overcrowded local county jails. Only those felons convicted of violent felonies (or a felon
convicted of a crime who was previously convicted of a violent felony), felons required to register as a
sex offender and felons convicted of a small list of non-violent felonies would be eligible to serve their
sentence in a state prison. As CVAA has reported over the years, many non-violent/non-serious crimes
are actually quite serious and violent. The legislature has refused to add those crimes to the list of violent
and serious felonies under California law. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates
that nearly 45,000 felons that would otherwise be locked up in our state prisons will instead be transferred
to our overcrowded local jails
As CVAA has reported, many counties are already operating jail systems that are overcrowded and do not
have the space to house the convicts they are currently responsible for. In fact, many of our urban
counties are already operating their jail systems under state or federally imposed population caps. AB
109 will overwhelm local jails. With nowhere to house new offenders, criminals will end up getting a get
out of jail free card – only to come back into our communities to commit more crimes, and potentially
more violent crimes, that they will not be held accountable for.
AB 109 forces counties to pay for space to house inmates
AB 109 authorizes counties to contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
for beds in state prisons for the commitment of persons from the county convicted of a felony.
No room at the local inn? No problem, for a fee, the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation will be happy to house those inmates that the county cannot accommodate for
approximately $50,000 a year per body. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and
our politicians in Sacramento know our local officials will not be able to afford this fee for more than a
select few extremely dangerous felons.
AB 109 releases the Department of Juvenile Justice from housing juvenile offenders
AB 109 states that unless a county has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the state before
July 1, 2011 to house their juveniles not appropriate for county incarceration, the Division of Juvenile
Justice (DJJ) shall no longer accept any juvenile offender commitments from juvenile courts. Any wards
that the county sends to DJJ will have to be paid for by the county.
AB 109 allows criminals to receive reduced sentences
AB 109 requires that all prisoners incarcerated in our county jails after July 1, 2011, will have their “good
time” credits increased from 33% to 50%. That means these inmates will only have to serve half of their
sentence. So, if a convict is sentenced to 4 years, he/she will only serve 2 years of their sentence under
AB 109 if they are incarcerated in a county jail instead of the 3 years they would serve now.
AB 109 eliminates parole for certain inmates and limits probation terms
1809 S Street, #101316 Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-273-3603 Toll Free/Fax: 888-235-7067 Email: [email protected]
This new law provides that inmates serving a term in prison for certain felonies will be subject to
community supervision, instead of state parole supervision, for a period of no more than 3 years.
AB 109 creates the Post-release Community Supervision Act
This law establishes within each county a local Community Corrections Partnership, an executive
committee, as specified, to recommend a local plan to the county board of supervisors on how the 2011
public safety realignment should be implemented within that county.
AB 109 limits the role of the Parole Services Division of the Department of Corrections and
the Board of Parole Hearings
Instead of supervising all felons released from state prison, the Department of Corrections Parole Services
Division will now only supervise felons convicted of violent felonies, those required to register as a sex
offender, and those felons convicted of a short list of specified felonies. Furthermore, the Board of Parole
Hearings will only be able to return a felon who has a “life sentence” to state prison for violating their
parole. All other felons who violate parole will be housed in our overcrowded local jails.
AB 109 changes the voter approved Jessica’s Law - Proposition 83
Jessica’s Law was voted into law by the citizens of the state of California on November 7, 2006. Under
Jessica’s Law, felons convicted of specified sex offenses and who have been released on parole from state
prison, must be discharged from parole by the Board of Parole Hearings if he or she has been on parole
for 6 years since release from confinement, or 20 years in the case of a conviction for a specified sex
offense. The Board has the authority to remand the offender on parole if necessary.
AB 109 transfers all supervision duties for sex offenders from the Board of Parole Hearings to our local
district attorneys, courts and county jails. California’s courts are overwhelmed as it is, and were not
created to perform the task of making parole revocation decisions for convicted felons – especially
dangerous sex offenders who require specialized supervision and treatment.
AB 109, in its current form, violates Marsy’s Law/Proposition 9, the Crime Victims Bill of
Rights passed by the voters in 2008. A couple examples of this follow:
Shifting Parole authority to Superior Courts
Penal Code §3044(a) reads, “Notwithstanding any other law, the Board of Parole Hearings or its
successor in interest shall be the state's parole authority and shall be responsible for protecting victims'
rights in the parole process.”
Penal Code §3044(b) reads, “The board is entrusted with the safety of victims and the public and shall
make its determination fairly, independently, and without bias and shall not be influenced by or weigh the
state cost or burden associated with just decisions. The board must accordingly enjoy sufficient autonomy
to conduct unbiased hearings, and maintain an independent legal and administrative staff. The board
shall report to the Governor.”
Whereas the superior courts of California can make independent decisions, they are constitutionally
mandated to be separate from the Executive Branch. The voters were clear that jurisdiction over parolees
is to remain with an independent, unbiased decision maker within the purview of the Executive Branch.
In addition, moving the responsibility of parole authority to the superior courts will result in an
inconsistency of victim protection and participation depending on the individual jurisdiction’s application
1809 S Street, #101316 Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-273-3603 Toll Free/Fax: 888-235-7067 Email: [email protected]
of Marsy’s Law. This of course is not in compliance with what the voters of California demanded with
their enactment of this law.
Victim Participation in the Parole Process
Marsy’s Law amended the California Constitution to require specific rights to individual victims during
criminal and parole proceedings. One such right is the right to victim notification of all parole and postconviction release proceedings as well as the right to be heard at any and all proceedings. AB 109 in
PC§3000.08(e) allows for the modification of parole terms, including revocations and parole lengths,
without any regard for victims and their rights. Again, going against the will of the voters of the state of
AB 109 will diminish services to victims of crime
One-way restitution for victims is collected is through the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation from inmates housed in the state prison. Counties have not perfected the restitution
collection process and therefore the concern is that as more criminals are sentenced and housed in our
county jails, the less restitution will be collected. The state restitution fund is currently facing bankruptcy
– this shift may deplete the restitution fund even further – causing the state to no longer be able to assist
victims of crime financially.
In addition, many services now offered through the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation may not be available at the local level – leaving victims without assistance and support.
AB 109 requires inmates released to county supervision be released to the county that was
their last legal residence
AB 109 contains no provisions for special conditions of parole designed to protect their victims, such as
the current restriction of living with 35 miles of the victim.
AB 109 will release parolees from parole supervision on July 1, 2014
This new law requires that anyone on parole that is not defined in statute as violent, serious or a sex
offender, regardless of the length of parole ordered, will be released from parole on July 1, 2014.
AB 109 requires Community-based punishment
"Community-based punishment" means evidence-based correctional sanctions and programming
encompassing a range of custodial and noncustodial responses to criminal or noncompliant offender
Intermediate sanctions may be provided by local public safety entities directly or through public or private
correctional service providers and include, but are not limited to, the following:
A) Short-term "flash" incarceration in jail for a period of not more than seven days.
B) Intensive community supervision.
C) Home detention with electronic monitoring or GPS monitoring.
D) Mandatory community service.
E) Restorative justice programs, such as mandatory victim restitution and victim-offender reconciliation.
F) Work, training, or education in a furlough program pursuant to Section 1208.
G) Work, in lieu of confinement, in a work release program pursuant to Section 4024.2.
H) Day reporting.
I) Mandatory residential or nonresidential substance abuse treatment programs.
1809 S Street, #101316 Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-273-3603 Toll Free/Fax: 888-235-7067 Email: [email protected]
J) Mandatory random drug testing.
K) Mother-infant care programs.
L) Community-based residential programs offering structure, supervision, drug treatment, alcohol
treatment, literacy programming, employment counseling, psychological counseling, mental health
treatment, or any combination of these and other interventions
• AB 109 is COSTLY
Currently there is no secured funding source associated with AB 109. Though the Governor has stated
that he will NOT implement the measure without a funding source, neither he – nor the legislature has
identified a specific dollar amount minimum to fund the measure or where this money may come from.
Originally, a constitutional amendment to allow voters to extend certain current taxes was identified as the
source of funding for the provisions of AB 109 – however, the measure has not been able to pass the
legislature and therefore it is not an option to fund AB 109.
Even if a funding source is identified, the Governor only intends on providing our local law enforcement
agencies with funding for 5 years and then costs would be solely the responsibility of the counties. What
does this mean for you? Increased fees and fines – Senator Steinberg also has a bill, SB 656, which
would greatly expand the ability of local governments to increase local taxes and lower the vote threshold
for the passage of local taxes to 55%.
1809 S Street, #101316 Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-273-3603 Toll Free/Fax: 888-235-7067 Email: [email protected]