MERCED — A recent report from the Chief Probation Officers of California supports local concerns the state's prison realignment program is hitting the San Joaquin Valley harder than other parts of the state.
"This is supposed to be a statewide effort," said Scott Ball, Merced County chief of probation. "If it's truly a statewide effort, there needs to be recognition of the resources needed for each individual county to make this work."
In the six months after realignment took effect, the 12-county Central California area received 8 percent more offenders than expected, more than any other region, according to the report.
By comparison, the Sacramento and Bay Area regions received roughly 5 percent fewer offenders than expected, the report states.
"This shows the disparity, once again, between larger urban areas and the Central Valley," Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said. "We are taking the brunt of realignment."
At the same time, regional law enforcement officials say the state's funding formula shortchanges economically distressed parts of the Valley.
For example, Merced County received about $5.2 million in realignment funding this fiscal year and took on 160 individuals released from state prison, from October 2011 through March, according to the data.
And Stanislaus County got about $12.2 million in realignment funding this fiscal year and took on 499 individuals, from October 2011 through March.
By comparison, Marin County received about $4.5 million in realignment funding this fiscal year and took on 26 people released from state prison; Santa Cruz County received about $5.1 million and took on 64; and San Luis Obispo got about $5.2 million for 142.
"The formula fails to take into account that Central Valley counties already have a lack of resources due to our fiscal problems," Ball said. "These counties that have resources, already have the tax bases to assist the offender population rehabilitate."
Ball added that state funding has helped Merced County stave off layoffs, but there's been little left over to expand services and oversight to address new caseloads under realignment.
Christianson said he hopes the state considers the report's findings and revises how it allocates funding to help local communities handle the extra burden.
The realignment program has put more than 23,000 ex-convicts under the counties' rather than state's supervision.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has fewer than 140,000 inmates for the first time since 1996.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or email@example.com.
The 2011-12 realignment funding formula was based on three factors:
The number of nonviolent, nonsexual, nonserious offenders that counties historically sent to state prison, which accounted for 60 percent of the formula.
U.S. Census data for the total population of county adults, which accounted for 30 percent.
Historical efforts by a county to rehabilitate its offender population, which accounted for 10 percent.
The 2012-13 formula includes three allocation options from which to choose, based on:
The previous year's formula
A county's population of citizens ages 18 to 24
A county's historical nonviolent, nonsexual, nonserious offender population sent to state prison