HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. - Governor Jerry Brown recently announced his support for the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.
The initiative is intended to reduce wasteful spending at state prisons, which includes reducing the population sizes within them.
This is only one of many initiatives that have been pushed through to help reduce the population size at California state prisons; Assembly Bill 109 and Proposition 47 are two others. However, county officials said that the results from those two initiatives have begun to fade.
"Right now after AB 109 and prop 47, the decreases that were experienced under those two legislative changes have now faded and now sentencing to prisons are starting to pick back up," Bill Damiano, Chief Probation Officer for Humboldt County.
The proposal would give anyone convicted of a non-violent felony and sentenced to prison parole consideration, after they have completed the full term for their primary offense in which sentenced.
The proposal is meant to rehabilitate inmates by awarding credit for good behavior, as well as educational and rehabilitation achievements.
"I think the move toward more rehabilitative programs and trying to get offenders to reduce their likely hood to re-offend is a good idea," Damiano, said.
According to District Attorney Maggie Fleming, in order for this initiative to be successful, there needs to be careful screening of those who are released and substantial efforts at rehabilitation. The fear is that if this is not the case, it will result in more crime within Humboldt County.
"The fear in the community that I would think, would be with the absence of that rehabilitation, they're going to go out into the community and commit the same kind of crimes that got them sent to prison initially," Duane Christian, a compliance officer with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, said.
The initiative also targets juveniles and whether or not they can be tried as adults. Currently, that decision is left up to the district attorney within each county. However, the initiative would change the decision making process, making the decision lie with a judge.
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