Administration of Justice
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AB 900 Implementation Efforts Underway
As counties are aware, the Governor signed into law on May 3 AB 900 (Solorio), a corrections reform package that contains significant investment in state and local detention facilities and sets out an expansive rehabilitation effort. Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the creation of two AB 900 Strike Teams — one focusing on rehabilitation and the other on facilities construction. The purpose of these strike teams is to expedite the implementation of the corrections package. For further details on the provisions of AB 900, please refer to the April 30 Bulletin.
The Rehabilitation Strike Team will focus on all components of AB 900 that center around rehabilitation service delivery, including: education, vocational training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, continuity of care for the parole after he or she is released from parole and public safety. Kathy Jett — formerly the director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and now director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Division of Addiction and Recovery Services — has been appointed the chair of this team. Other members include representatives from universities, a community college, community-based agencies, an attorney, a research institute and an executive from CDCR. Staff from the Department of Finance and Department of Personnel Administration will be assisting the strike team as well.
The Facilities Construction Strike Team will begin to work immediately on building the re-entry, infill, medical and jail beds. Deborah Hysen, formerly the Chief Deputy of the Department of General Services and a member of the California Performance Review Team, has been appointed chair of this team. Other members include: a retired deputy sheriff, a retired CDCR employee, engineer, several state employees representing the Department of General Services, Corrections Standards Authority and the Department of Finance.
Members of each strike team are to be compensated for their work and travel by CDCR from its 2007-2008 budget. An arrangement has been worked out for those state employees assigned to the strike teams to be loaned to the strike team for 6-12 months. For further information on the teams, please refer to the Governor’s Office press release.
In related news, the state this week filed a brief to the federal court detailing the ways in which AB 900 will address the problems of overcrowding in the state prison system. Filed in response to a February 15, 2007 federal court order, the court documents lay out state’s arguments that an aggressive construction initiative, coupled with significant rehabilitative efforts, should forestall federal court intervention
Finally, Robert Sillen, the receiver overseeing the prison health care system, has released several reports in the last week related to both a plan for the prison health care system, as well as commentary on the state’s efforts to address through AB 900 prison overcrowding. The receiver’s documents can be found at the report this week on the receiver’s Web site, under the tab “Court Documents.”
On May 14, the Governor released his May Revision to his initial budget released in January for budget year 2007-2008. Many aspects of the January budget proposals under the Administration of Justice arena remained unchanged. However, there were some changes that should be highlighted. These include the following:
· California Adult Probation Accountability and Rehabilitation Act. The May Revision proposes to fund the California Adult Probation Accountability and Rehabilitation Act (CAPARA) at $25 million, down from $50 million proposed in the January budget. This new initiative would provide support to all local probation departments to expand adult probation services, with targeted program and supervision of adult probationers aged 18 to 25. CSAC is in strong support of this new initiative, as we believe that up-front investment in the probation system can help address the “revolving door” in the criminal justice system.
· Court Collections. As described above, the Governor’s May Revision contemplates a multi-pronged gang abatement effort. To fund this initiative, the May Revision proposes to increase from 20 to 40% the existing state surcharge used to calculate the state penalty assessment. Further, the Governor proposes to realign responsibility for court collections from the counties to the court, for purposes of consistencies and efficiencies. Based on preliminary discussions with AOC staff, the implementation of the latter proposal regarding the collections responsibility would take into consideration county concerns. CSAC met with representatives from the Department of Finance and staff from AOC on May 17 to discuss court collections. Language regarding this change has been sent to counties for comment. This measure will be heard before Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees next week. CSAC has grave concerns about the specifics and timeline of this proposal and will be articulating those concerns.
· Juvenile Justice Realignment. The May Revision slightly amends the Governor’s January budget proposal to transfer to counties control and supervision of certain juvenile offenders. The proposal — that would stop intake into the state Division of Juvenile Justice of certain non-violent male offenders and all female offenders on July 1, 2007 — has been adjusted slightly to account for lower-than-expected juvenile institutional and parolee populations in 2007–08. Counties should be aware that there appears to be significant interest in the Legislature regarding arriving at an agreement that can carry out the policy objective of keeping more juvenile offenders locally.
· Adult Corrections Reform. The Governor’s May Revision proposes various funding elements to support the implementation of AB 900 (Solorio), the adult corrections reform proposal signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on May 3. While the May Revision does not contain funding for all aspects of AB 900, the Governor recently announced the creation of two strike teams (detailed above) that, in part, are charged with making certain recommendations regarding AB 900 implementation and related fiscal implementations. AB 900 items funded in the May Revision include:
· Out-of-state transfers: To permit the transfer of up to 5,060 inmates to correctional facilities located in other states, the May Revision contains a proposed augmentation of $9.6 million in 2007-2008 and $27.8 million in 2008-2009.
· State and local infrastructure program support: To administer the state and local construction programs established in AB 900, the May Revision dedicates (1) $2 million to the Corrections Standards Authority for the jail bed construction program and (2) $581,000 to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Facilities Management to provide staffing needs to support prison construction projects.
· California Rehabilitation Oversight Board: To support the activities of the board — created by AB 900 to examine various mental health, substance abuse, educational, and employment programs for inmates and parolees — $810,000 to the Office of the Inspector General, who is designated as the board chair.
It should also be noted that the May Revision reverts proposed funding to support a Sentencing Commission.
Fine and Forfeiture MOEs
AB 227 (Beall) – Co-Sponsor
AB 227, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, would make permanent adjustments to counties’ fine and forfeiture maintenance of effort (MOE) obligations, based on reductions resulting from two previous legislative measures enacted in 2005. AB 227 passed out of the Assembly on April 26, and will be heard on May 22 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. We strongly encourage counties to join in support of this measure. CSAC is co-sponsoring AB 227 with the Judicial Council.
Assumption Program for Loans for Law in the Public Interest
AB 171 (Beall) – Sponsor
AB 171, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, seeks to expand eligibility in the Assumption Program for Loans for Law in the Public Interest (APLLPI) to include county counsel. The measure’s other provisions seek to assist the Student Aid Commission in effectively and efficiently administering this program, AB 171 passed out of the Assembly on May 3 and now awaits hearing before the Senate Education Committee. CSAC is sponsoring AB 171 on behalf of the County Counsels’ Association; we strongly encourage counties to weigh in with support on this measure.
Incompetent to Stand Trial
AB 1121 (Lieber) – Oppose
As counties are aware, AB 1121, by Assembly Member Sally Lieber, relates to defendants who are found by a court to be incompetent to stand trial. It requires that an individual who is found incompetent to stand trial be transferred to a state hospital within 14 days of that decision. If the state is not able to transfer the individual to a state hospital within that time frame, the individual must then be placed in a public or private facility located in the community until he or she can be transferred to a state hospital. Furthermore, the measure requires that once the individual is found to be competent to stand trial, a determination must be made prior to their transfer back to the county jail for trial, that the transfer to the county jail will not result in the individual’s mental health decompensating.
CSAC and the California Mental Health Directors Association have joined in opposition on this measure. While we appreciate the fact that AB 1121 clearly highlights an area of significant need, we are concerned that the measure, as currently written, would impose significant and impractical obligations on counties with no identified funding source or competency treatment to support these new duties. The net effect of this measure, in our view, will not be improved outcomes or greater access to meaningful treatment, but rather increased pressure on already stretched state and local systems due to the establishment of standards and expectations that cannot reasonably be met without a significant infusion of resources.
On May 14, AB 1121 was placed on the Suspense File by Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Social Security Numbers
AB 1168 (Jones) – Request for Comment
AB 1168, by Assembly Member Dave Jones, would require local public agencies and universities to truncate Social Security numbers from any public documents before those documents are released if more than four digits in the social security number are displayed. Furthermore, the bill authorizes the Attorney General or any other affected person to bring a civil action to enforce this provision.
Another area of study relates to public agencies’ ability to reconcile requirements set forth in the Public Records Act related both to timing and disclosure. It is not clear how this bill will affect government agencies’ ability to comply with the public records requests, while at the same time ensuring that no document released shows more than the last four digits of an individual’s Social Security number.
Moreover, CSAC is aware that many local agencies may legitimately use Social Security numbers as an identifier for internal or administrative purposes. We are requesting that counties consult with their county counsels, social service department directors and any other departments or agencies that might potentially be affected to discuss the implications of this bill and what would be required of local agencies to comply with AB 1168. We are most specifically interested in receiving information on what county records (outside of records that are officially recorded) — that could conceivably be sought and made available through a public records request — contain a Social Security number.
Counties respects our responsibilities to assure the public’s privacy and desires to protect individuals’ personal information, and are trying to assess the practical application and operational ramifications of implementing this bill as currently conceived. CSAC will continue to meet with the author’s office as well as with other interested parties to discuss this bill in the coming weeks.
AB 1168 is currently on suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A hearing regarding all suspense items will be held in the coming weeks. County feedback will be helpful as we discuss the implications of this measure with the author.