On 4th May 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown signed AB 109 realignment act into law. The law which became effective on 1st October stipulates that only those who commit major offenses such as sexual and violent will be remanded in state prisons while those who commit minor offenses will serve their sentence in county prisons. This is a move aimed at reducing the congestion in state prisons. However, those inmates already serving their sentences in the state prison will continue being there till their sentence is over. The law will ensure the number of inmates serving in state prisons especially those in California is reduced to almost a half.
Brown observed that state’s prison system was not regulated. This resulted to low-level offenders and violators being moved from one state prison to other, yet most of them are released within months. This resulted to wastage of money and congestion in prisons. He believes the 2011 Realignment acts will ensure the capacity of state prisons is kept in line with its initial expected capacity and at the same time money is saved.
The Governor in his speech pointed out that for the law to come into action it must be well funded by the government and proper directives put in place to achieve cohesion within the prison system. The changes to AB 109 realign greater responsibilities for minor and juvenile offenders from state to county jurisdictions. The Act gives local law enforcement the right and power to deal with lower level offenders in a better and cost-effective way.
Brown’s move has gone through a lot of opposition in parliament especially from the Republican legislators. In an effort to make the realignment operational, the governor signed AB 111 which enables counties to access funding aimed at expanding their jails capacity before the implementation of AB 109. This will ensure the counties are well equipped to support the new changes as most prisoners are often sentenced for minor offenses.
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