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Crime & Justice

New state agency to look at prison realignment

Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca (R) is among those appointed to the new board.
Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca (R) is among those appointed to the new board.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A new state agency will monitor prison realignment, the most dramatic change in criminal justice in recent California history. As of this month, the Board of State and Community Corrections will monitor what's happening in California's 58 counties as thousands of state prisoners return and are placed on community supervision instead of state parole. Prison realingment also diverts those convicted of non-violent and non-serious felonies to county jail instead of state prison.

Realignment is designed to drastically reduce the population in California's prisons, which are under court orders to reduce overcrowding. So far, the policy has put the state on track: the system has over 30,000 fewer prisoners than it did in January 2010, when a federal court first ordered the population reduced.

Realignment, which has been underway for less than a year, has been controversial. Many counties have complained of jail overcrowding and insufficient resources to properly supervise returning inmates. 

On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Susan Mauriello, the county administrator of Santa Cruz County, as director of the board. Santa Cruz, known as an innovator in alternatives to incarceration, is one of the counties that has most fully embraced prison realignment. 

Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca was also chosen to serve on the board. All appointments require confirmation by the State Senate.