Late Monday evening, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB109 – the public safety realignment billÂ – which authorizes the transfer of tens of thousands of convictedÂ felons from state prisons to local control.Â The measure wasÂ part of Brown’sÂ effort to balance the state budget by shifting the burden of housing and supervising these criminals from the state to county level.
One problem:Â the governorÂ planned on tax increases and extensions to fund the measure, however Republicans have blocked all efforts for Brown to put those taxes before voters in June.Â
The govenor had a choice to either sign the bill or veto it, otherwise it would have automatically gone into law that evening.Â SoÂ Brown attempted to soften the blow by stating that AB109 will not take effect until the state has figured outÂ how to pay counties for the extra responsibilities.Â
Sheriffs had initally reluctantly showed support for the bill, only if the measure would be adequately funded.Â Now they are worried that without a long term, dedicated funding stream, counties will ultimately end up bearing the extra burden without the finiancial resources to pay for them. And that could lead to already-overcrowded jails releasing criminals, said Nick Warner, a lobbyist for the California State Sheriffs Association.Â
“Without clear constitutional protections and inadequate funding, this is a public safety nightmare,” he said.Â
Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, also issued harsh words in her statement:Â Â
“This flawed measure amounts to a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for thousands of felons who should be in state prison,” she said. “The governor has signed this bill in the name of cost-savings, but it could end up costing lives by letting dangerous criminals out onto our streets without proper supervision. This law will only shift the state’s responsibilities onto the backs of local government without resources to keep our communities safe. I urge my fellow lawmakers to work with Assembly Republicans on follow up legislation that will not endanger our neighborhoods.”Â