FRESNO, Calif. --Prison realignment is doing what it's intended to, but at what cost? There's a new look at how often early-released inmates end up back in custody from the Public Policy Institute of California, or PPIC.
State prisons have reduced populations, the key behind AB-109, the study says. But those inmates are ending up in county jails. 700 realigned inmates are housed in Fresno County currently. And Sheriff Margaret Mims says the situation, and the impact on local public safety, can be improved with more state money.
State realignment now forces local counties to house many more inmates than before. The new study by the PPIC says the rate of re-offense by criminals hasn't changed all that much, like initially promised.
"I do believe counties can do a better job locally, however they have to be funded to do that better job," Mims said in a phone interview.
Realignment calls for local jails to reduce the state prison population by housing inmates locally and implementing drug and mental health rehab programs. They are alternate sentences Sheriff Mims says can't be done without an increase in state funding.
Once the jail is full, low-risk, non-violent inmates are put on post-release community supervision with fewer restrictions than standard parole. That can sometimes put public safety on the line.
"Remember the purpose of realignment was not to improve public safety," Mims said. "The purpose of realignment was to reduce state prison population."
The Valley has repeatedly seen some of those inmates committing other crimes, often worse than before. Take Joshua Moynier for example, who had been released early because his record only had fraud and identity theft.
Police say he caused a wreck after a high-speed chase last April, and attempted to crash into a sheriff's deputy head-on.
The likelihood, according to this new PPIC study, shows re-offence in the first year is down about two percent. But criminals being arrested multiple times has risen seven percent.
Another PPIC study projects Fresno County's jail population to increase 136 percent in the next six years.
Sheriff Mims says the new jail will give criminals a reason not to re-offend since they, hopefully, wouldn't be released early.