By Charles Eddy and Charles Turner
The Alameda County Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform is working with Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) and county partners to sponsor a series of meetings seeking residents input on the proposed Community Advisory Board for prison realignment.
The Coalition is composed of community-based organizations and individuals committed to creating a fair and just public safety system. A restorative and sustainable system, based on effective practices that invest in our communities, our families, and our people, minimizes criminalization and acknowledges that detention and incarceration impoverish our communities and harm public safety.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors directed that a Community Advisory Board be formed as part of the county’s response to the historic prison realignment process that has been underway for the past two years.
It is their response to complaints of too few opportunities for the public to impact changes to the county’s justice and corrections systems as an effect of the prison realignment legislation known as Assembly Bill 109.
The legislature passed AB 109 in 2011 in response to a federal court order to reduce the state’s overflow prison population.
Since 2011, nearly 25,000 inmates have been transferred from state prison back to their sentencing counties. Currently, the state is being directed by the court to return another 10,000 inmates to the counties, which receive millions of dollars to help support expanded capacities for services and custody as needed.
Additionally, AB 109 no longer allows county courts to set state prison terms for individuals found guilty of non-serious, non-violent and non sex-related felonies. Those convicted of these crimes must receive local services and serve any periods of confinement in county facilities.
The law mandates that each county develop a Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee (CCP-EC) consisting of seven members, including county department heads, a police chief and representative of the courts.
This CCP-EC is charged with developing and implementing the county’s prison realignment policy as well as making budgetary recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how to spend annual realignment funds from the state.
For fiscal year 2013-2014 those funds amount to nearly $34 million dollars for Alameda County.
After hearing repeated complaints from residents of the limited access to the process of planning for local realignment changes and that too much realignment funding was supporting law enforcement budgets rather than community-based services, the Board directed the CCP-EC to create a Community Advisory Board to enhance the public’s ability to participate in developing realignment policies and spending priorities.
The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, 1188 12th Street in West Oakland. The public is invited and encouraged to participate in the conversation.
For more information, contact Charles Eddy at Urban Strategies Council at 510-893-2404.