California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) made a visit to Stanislaus County on Monday, meeting with county leaders to discuss the local impacts of prison realignment.
Realignment shifted the responsibility for incarcerating and probating many lower-risk inmates from state to counties.The measure was intended to reduce overcrowding in prisons, and cut spending from the state budget.
In the past three years as many as 30,000 prisoners have been transferred from state to county jails. The law has remained controversial because critics maintain it releases criminals onto the streets where they committed their crimes, and it lacks funding for local law enforcement to handle increases in jail and post-release program costs.
Brown met with Stanislaus County Supervisors Vito Chiesa and Terry Withrow, Sheriff Adam Christianson, District Attorney Birgit Fladager, Chief Probation Officer Jill Silva, the Honorable Loretta Murphy Begen and the Honorable Scott Steffen to discuss those concerns Monday.
“The Governor heard our message and was very engaged, candid and showed great concern for our challenges,” Chiesa said. “But, we also shared there is a long way to go as Stanislaus County and a number of valley counties struggle with lack of adequate funding for implementation of realignment.”
Brown said he understands the valley is not getting its fair share of realignment funding, and discussed the funding formula and additional funding sources. He also expressed support for finding creative ways to provide needed programs.
While in Stanislaus County Brown also toured three different facilities, including the new 16-bed Stanislaus County Psychiatric Health Facility in Ceres. The PHF will be used for short-term inpatient psychiatric care for county residents.
He then visited the Public Safety Center and saw first-hand how programs such as the Sheriff’s Custody and Community Institute of Life Skills were designed to help break cycles of addiction, and to help men and women develop better decision making and coping skills. The Governor even asked for an impromptu meeting with the nearly 20 inmates who were in the middle of a life skills class, and spoke with them about why they were incarcerated. Brown asked the group by a show of hands how many of them had a drug or alcohol problem that led to their incarceration, and all but one hand in the room was raised.
“We were proud to host the Governor in Stanislaus County and to show him that we are taking productive steps in the implementation of realignment,” stated Christianson. “We were all impressed by not just the amount of time he spent with us, but his serious consideration of our discussion.”
Photo Courtesy of Stanislaus County
Governor Brown and Sheriff Adam Christianson speak with Dr. Michael Atinsky, the Programs Coordinator for the Sheriff’s Custody and Community Institute of Life Skills at the Public Safety Center. The SCCLILS program helps men and women who have broken the law make life changes and learn new coping skills to combat poor decisions