Realignment calls for jail time alternatives

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The Auburn Journal reported on the first year of California’s prison realignment, the attempt to move non-violent convicts from prison to county jails (“AB 109 adding to challenges for Placer jail, crime suppression,” Journal, Oct. 12). The article says realignment is creating overcrowding and other problems in our county jail. That’s not the whole story. Placer County has a 640-bed jail in Auburn, and there’s an empty, new, 390-bed jail outside Roseville that the county can’t afford to open. The article says: “Placer County Sheriff’s Captain George Malim said (since realignment began) the daily population of the jail has gone from 523 inmates on any given day in 2010, to the current level of 580. He added that the jail has also experienced a number of weeks and months where the average daily population was 600 prisoners.” For realignment to work, counties must reduce jail population by developing alternatives to jail time. California’s incarceration rate has increased steadily since the 1980s, costing the taxpayers billions without any decrease in crime. We need a change in philosophy, exploring ways other than jail to deal with crime. The overall term for this change in philosophy is “evidence-based sentencing,” using jail plus a variety of experience-proven methods to stop the cycle of crime. Before giving up on realignment, Placer County needs to try alternative sentencing and treatment, and “split sentencing” combinations of jail and supervised probation. We just can’t keep pouring money into building new jails – we need innovative solutions. Joe Offer, Placer People of Faith Together, Auburn