Stanislaus County could see decreased state funding for public safety realignment

kcarlson@modbee.comJune 9, 2014 

  • STANISLAUS BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WATCH

    The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. The following items will be considered:

    •  Recommendations on groundwater from the Water Advisory Committee

    •  County budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, in a public hearing. The rollover budget will guide county spending in the next three months. Major budget decisions will be made with the final budget in September.

    •  Formal action to dissolve the Modesto Regional Fire Authority

Stanislaus County officials are preparing for a possible decrease in state funding for the fourth year of public safety realignment.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal in May would provide counties with $949 million for realignment efforts next fiscal year, about $100 million less than this year. County budget years run from July 1 to June 30.

With less funding for next year, Stanislaus County departments may have to draw down fund balances and scratch a plan to reserve $1 million for program costs when the Public Safety Center expansion opens in 2017, a county report says.

Starting in 2011, Assembly Bill 109 made sweeping changes to criminal justice in California, giving counties the responsibility for adults convicted of lower-level felonies and for monitoring the less dangerous inmates released from state prisons.

Counties have expected a one-time drop in realignment funding in 2014-15, because the state assumed counties would have fewer probationers to supervise and would need less money. But the numbers for that population haven’t dropped off; they are flat, a report says.

The fiscal hit to Stanislaus may not be too severe. A state committee is working on a more equitable formula for allocating the funds to the 58 counties in California. Stanislaus could receive a fatter portion if poverty and unemployment are factors in the new calculation.

This morning, supervisors will consider a fourth-year realignment plan that aims to reduce repeated criminal acts by AB 109 offenders. Under a contract, a Modesto police crime analyst will help the county measure the results by tracking crime rates, recidivism, arrests, convictions and sentences.

For the most part, staffing and programs funded in 2013-14 will continue next year, said Mike Hamasaki, assistant chief probation officer for the county. The plan would discontinue the Second Chances program, which used retired racehorses for therapy and vocational training for probationers with mental health issues.

In a partnership with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Second Chances is designed to heal past trauma, addictions and behavioral disorders, as well as teach horse-grooming as a vocation. Over a two-year period, 17 participants worked with horses in the Sheriff’s Department arena next to the Public Safety Center on Hackett Road, and four graduated.

From October 2011 to April, 1,535 adults released from state prison were supervised by county probation. During the same period, 1,235 convicted offenders were sentenced under realignment law.

In the past year, 481 parole violators were arrested 860 times, which was down from the previous year. The activity of 774 parole violators in 2012-13 resulted in 1,218 arrests.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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