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Calif. GOP Lawmakers: Realignment Not Working, So Fix It

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Under realignment, the state shifted responsibility for low-level offenders to the counties.  Republicans say counties have had to release inmates early - leading to crimes that never should have happened.

Diana Muñoz says her 21-year-old daughter is in a wheelchair with brain damage because of one such crime.  She was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of a parole violator who was released after just two days in county jail.

"The state is responsible for what's happened to her," Muñoz said at a Capitol news conference with Republican lawmakers Tuesday.  "They should have never let him out.  So please, I'm begging all of you - reverse this decision, 'cause it could be your own kid!"

The Brown administration says realignment was necessary to reduce California's prison population in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  Jeffrey Callison with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says it makes sense to let counties decide what to do with low-level offenders.  "That's not some radical new idea that Governor Brown came up with.  That's just standard criminal justice policy that you do in other places, and we got out of the habit of doing in California."

The state still hasn't fully complied with the Supreme Court order.  And it's asking a panel of federal judges to let it off the hook so it can avoid releasing dangerous offenders.  GOP lawmakers are proposing several bills that would send some offenders back to state prison instead of leaving them with counties.  Callison says any legislation that would increase California's prison population would make it even harder to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. 

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