County probation departments lose incentive funds


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The success of California’s prison realignment plan is causing an unintended casualty: smaller rewards for counties that figure out how to cut recidivism.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget includes only $35 million in what are called community corrections performance grants, down from $138 million this year. The grants are given to county probation departments that reduce the number of felons they send back to state prison for violating probation or committing a new crime.


The 2009 program was designed to give counties a share of the money the state saves when it doesn’t have to lock someone up.

However, under AB109, there are fewer felons returning to state prison. Low-level offenders and parole violators are now responsibility of counties. The shift is the primary driver behind large drops in California’s prison population, and continued crowding in some county jails.

The Administrative Office of the Courts calculated that probation departments kept 9,500 felons out of prison this year, including 3,890 in Los Angeles. For that, Los Angeles received nearly $53 million in performance grants.


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--Paige St. John in Sacramento