The Placer County Board of Supervisors received an update on the county’s integrated approach to implementing public safety realignment last week while taking an important step in dealing with impacts from the state-mandated program.
Board members voted unanimously to approve contracts with several nonprofit agencies that will provide substance abuse outclient and residential treatment, transitional housing and educational programming services for clients both in-custody and in the community who are the county’s responsibility because of realignment.
The Health and Human Services Department has handled its increased realignment-related workload on an interim basis using existing Adult System of Care staff and private-sector service providers since January. The contracts approved by the board Tuesday will provide the department with an expanded service capacity when the 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1.
Representatives from Health and Human Services, the Probation Department, Sheriff’s Office and County Executive Office addressed the board Tuesday to update the board on the county’s approach to implementing realignment. “I am pleased with the progress Placer County is making in implementing realignment,” Supervisor Jack Duran said afterward. “I am convinced we have the right people at the table and a solid plan in place to do the job effectively. Most importantly, our implementation team agrees that protecting public safety must remain our top priority as we carry out this state-mandated program.”
State officials put realignment into operation last October, making counties responsible for many offenders the state classifies as nonviolent, non-serious and non-sex offenders sentenced after Oct. 1. The program is helping the state balance its budgets and comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires the state to reduce overcrowding in its prisons.
During Tuesday’s update, county staff noted that the Placer County jail in North Auburn typically had an average daily population of 523 inmates in 2011 before realignment, but is now averaging about 590 inmates per day since Jan. 1, 2012 and occasionally surpasses 600. The jail has a total capacity to handle up to 646 inmates, but, in consideration of safety, security and maintenance, an internally managed operational capacity of 581.
Capt. George Malim of the Sheriff’s Corrections Division said inmates sentenced to the Placer County Jail who prior to realignment would have been sentenced to state prison occupy approximately 35 percent of the jail’s high-security cells, but only about 10 percent of medium-security and low-security housing.
Placer County’s long-range solution is a new jail now nearing completion at the county’s Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. Staff will return to the board at a later meeting to discuss the timeline for opening the new jail and provide estimates for start-up and operating costs.
Chief Probation Officer Marshall C. Hopper said he expects the increased realignment-related workload will begin to stabilize eventually. “But we’re not quite there,” he told the board. “We need a little more time to thoroughly evaluate the impacts of realignment.”
Principal Management Analyst Bekki Riggan told the board that most counties in California are reporting impacts similar to those being felt in Placer County. “While the 2011 realignment is helping the state achieve its federal-court-imposed population targets, it has had an impact to county jail populations and probation caseloads in nearly every county across the state,” she explained.
Placer County’s implementation plan was drafted by a state-mandated group called the Community Corrections Partnership Advisory Committee and its Executive Committee. Hopper serves as chair of both committees.
The proposed implementation plan lays out the roles and responsibilities to be played by county agencies, the courts, municipal law enforcement agencies and community agencies that provide substance abuse, alcohol abuse and mental health treatment services.
Placer County received $3.1 million from the state this fiscal year to implement realignment and $360,725 in one-time state funds for planning and training. The county expects a state allocation of $6.2 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Supervisor Duran represents the Board of Supervisors on the Advisory Committee. The committee includes representatives from several county departments and offices: the Board of Supervisors, Probation, the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender, Sheriff’s Office, Health and Human Services and County Executive Office. It also has representatives from the Placer County Superior Court, Placer County Office of Education, local police agencies, community-based organizations and crime victims.