Capitol Alert: California public safety realignment formula needs overhaul, analyst says

05/13/2014 5:51 PM

05/13/2014 5:59 PM

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California's formula to distribute money to help pay for public safety realignment lacks incentives and transparency, according to a new report by the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal analyst.

There have been two temporary realignment formulas since lawmakers approved the 2011 law that made counties responsible for lower-level felony offenders. The first formula covered the program's first year and the second formula is in effect through June. The Brown administration is scheduled to present a new allocation formula for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Lawmakers should insist on a formula that is better than the current one because it "impacts the success or failure of the realignment of felony offenders," the Legislative Analyst's Office wrote.

The current formula is flawed, the LAO said, because it lacks transparency and makes it hard for counties to plan for the future. It also allows counties to choose from several formulas, including some that offer no incentive for counties to reduce the rate at which it incarcerates felony probationers.

"The result is that each county's allocation is based on whichever formula is most advantageous for that county rather than on a clear policy justification, such as variations in county caseload or performance," the report reads.

The LAO suggests that the next formula take into account the number of offenders under county control, average per capita income in a county, the number of offenders a county sends to prison, and other metrics.

PHOTO: In this 2011 file photo, Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Chris Carroll opens a cell at a formerly closed housing unit at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center that will be reopened to handle the increase of inmates sentenced under the new prison realignment program. Associated Press Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

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