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What Is the California Realignment Program?

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on December 1, 2020

Every state in America has an issue with overcrowded prisons, and has been facing this issue for the past decade. California is no exception. Among the many solutions that the state government has tried over the years is the California Realignment Program, which is meant to keep non-violent convicted criminals out of prison. If you are facing such a conviction, then the program may be the perfect opportunity for you.

The History of the California Realignment Program

The California Realignment Program was established in 2011, after the people of California voted to implement it through Assembly Bill 109. At that point in time, the prison population in California had skyrocketed, and there was an issue with overcrowding. The realignment program was a way to allow inmates to leave prison, thereby decreasing the population.

Overcrowding is a serious problem in prisons across the United Sates. Not only does it make inmates harder to control, but it also leaves inmates living in inhumane conditions. The more inmates there are, the less space there is. That impacts the inmates’ ability to get proper exercise, sleep and use the bathroom comfortably, as well as the staff’s ability to keep the facility clean. In the interest of making sure inmates are treated humanely, as is their right, the California Realignment Program was created.

What the Realignment Program Does

Typically, when someone is convicted of a felony crime, he will spend at least a year in a state prison. Given the vast number of felonies that someone can be charged with in California, that state prison can quickly fill up with inmates serving year-long sentences, alongside those already incarcerated. So, certain inmates can seek relief through the realignment program.

If someone was convicted of a non-violent, non-sexual, and non-serious felony crime, then he can seek time in the county jail. Jails are often less harsh than prisons. They have less security, and usually a smaller population. Overall, county jails are considered a much easier place to be incarcerated than state prisons.

On top of that, someone convicted of a qualifying crime, rather than being sentenced to prison may be released, and avoid time behind bars altogether. Of course, it isn’t complete freedom. Those who qualify are monitored according to the Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS) program. It acts as another version of parole, allowing those who are participating to remain home, working and taking care of their families, while still reporting in with an agent.

How the Program Can Help You

Not everyone qualifies for the program. Those who have been convicted of violent crimes or sexual crimes, for example, will not be allowed to participate. While there are many eligible crimes (all of which are considered non-violent, non-sexual, and non-serious), some of the more common ones are:

  • Commercial burglary
  • Forgery
  • Evading law enforcement
  • Simple drug possession

If you have been convicted of one of the above crimes, or you were convicted for a crime that is not considered serious, violent, or sexual, then you may be eligible for the program. If you are allowed to participate, it means that you may not have to face any prison time, even if you were convicted of a felony. Instead, you will be sent to county jail, or you will be allowed to avoid jail altogether and instead be allowed to return home under supervision.

It isn’t hard to figure out why qualifying for the program is preferential to going to prison. However, being entered into the program isn’t as easy as asking nicely. The prosecution may push for you to be sentenced to prison. If that is the case, you will need a strong defense team who can help you apply for the program, or even have your charges dropped altogether. Call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 for a no-cost consultation with a skilled defense team.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense