SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1512 into law on June 23, extending inter-county inmate transfers aimed at reducing overcrowding and early release. According to the bill’s author, the move will give counties more time to adapt to realignment policies, and to develop both space that will make jails safer and programs that will help reduce recidivism.
The bill states that existing law authorizes counties with inadequate inmate facilities to enter into an agreement with counties whose adult detention facilities are adequate for and accessible to the first county. The newly signed bill would extend the operation of those provisions through July 1, 2018 from its original July 1, 2015 expiration date. Inmates eligible for transfer include “sentenced misdemeanants, felons sentenced to serve a term in a county jail and any person required to serve a term of imprisonment in county adult detention facilities as a condition of probation.”
First introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey) in January 2014, the measure easily passed Public Safety Committee votes in both the Assembly and Senate. According to voting records, it also received full, bipartisan support on both the Assembly and Senate floors.
“It’s important that counties have the tools to manage jail overcrowding caused by statewide prison realignment so they can better serve inmate populations and their families,” said Stone, in a statement. “I am pleased that Democrats and Republicans came together to support this bill, and I wholeheartedly thank the Governor for signing this measure into law.”
According to Stone, criminal justice realignment under AB 109 placed greater responsibility on county jails, including Monterey County Jail, in the housing and rehabilitation of inmates. A lawsuit filed in May 2013 by the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office alleged that the jail was severely overcrowded, making facilities unsafe for both inmates and staff. Although AB 900 is providing the facility with more than $36 million to construct new bed spaces, administrative support and space for rehabilitation, construction won’t be completed until 2017. As of January 2014, 60 inmates had been transferred from Monterey to Alameda, where facilities are better equipped to house and care for inmates placed in county jail after realignment.
“I thank the legislature, Governor Brown and specifically the bill’s author, Assembly member Stone, for taking action to address the issue of crowded county jails while we continue to refine our approach to prison realignment,” said Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller in a statement. “This measure will help Monterey County bridge the time until our jail expansion project is completed, improving safety for inmates and staff while also freeing up space for improved programs to reduce recidivism.”