The State of California was forced to do something. To address to the state’s inhumane and dangerous prison overcrowding population, Governor Jerry Brown passed a new law to transfer many non-violent offenders from the prison system to county jails to serve out their time.
But just how is the law broken down? Although the new law differentiates between non-violent and violent or serious offenses, many are confused about exactly how the state classifies these offenses. The system is not as intuitive as the names imply.
Many crimes that people would likely consider violent are classified as non-violent and individuals convicted of them are likely to serve out their time in a county jail. For example, crimes such as vehicular manslaughter as well as assault and battery are labeled non serious offenses.
According to Southern California Public Radio, here is a breakdown of non-violent felony crimes under the new law:
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Participating in a lynching
- Possessing weapons of mass destruction
- Possessing explosives
- Threatening a witness or juror
- Killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest
- Statutory rape
- Using arson or explosives to terrorize a health facility or church
- Sexual exploitation by a doctor or psychotherapist
While county jail may not sound like a significant improvement to people in Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Riverside Counties, there are some significant perks for those who are transferred under the new realignment provision.
First, parole will be a thing of the past. Once individuals serve their time, they are released without any probation or other supervision.
Second, the new law gives judges the freedom to reward good behavior. “Hybrid” or “split sentencing” was created to divide up the term of a sentence between county jail and “mandatory supervision” that is managed by probation officers.
Finally, the reality for many county jails in Southern California is that they will not have sufficient space in their facilities to absorb the population being transferred to them under realignment so for many, realignment will mean an early release and fresh start.
Our law firm has extensive experience handling a variety of criminal matters. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense website.
Source: www.scpr.org, “Part I: LA County is ground zero for prison realignment,” Frank Stoltze, 5 September 2012 and www.scpr.org, “Prison realignment: New Calif. law broadly defines “low-level” offenses,” KPCC, 4 October 2011