Three years later: Public safety realignment in El Dorado County

By Jessica Cyphers, Mountain Democrat, June 17, 2013

From page A1 | 33 Comments

It’s been three years since California’s Public Safety Realignment Plan (AB 109), one of the most significant changes to California’ criminal justice system in decades, went into effect. Due to overcrowding in state prisons, on Oct. 1, 2011, California state legislature shifted responsibility from the state to counties for the custody, treatment and supervision of individuals convicted of specified non-violent, non-serious, non-sex (non-non-non) crimes. Now, at the start of its third year, the full effects of AB 109 are beginning to be seen. In El Dorado County, that’s a good thing.

“Before realignment, a judge had two choices — send felons to prison followed by parole with the state, or put them in jail and on probation at the county level,” said El Dorado County Chief Probation Officer Greg Sly. “Now, instead of going to prison, non-non-non offenders serve their terms in county jails or split their time between jail and probation, and non-non-non prisoners do their parole at the county level.”

Public safety realignment in El Dorado County

To implement the Public Safety Realignment Plan, each county created a community corrections partnership (CCP) and an executive committee — a group of seven including the county’s chief probation officer, chief of police and sheriff, among others — to make recommendations to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. In El Dorado County, the CCP looked specifically at ways to reduce recidivism.

“We really started looking at what kinds of inmates we had and ways we could keep them from reoffending,” said Randy Peshon, captain of the El Dorado County Division of Custody. “Eighteen percent of the offender population is mentally ill. How could we help them?”

With this in mind, using AB 109 funds allocated to the county and protected by Proposition 30, El Dorado County CCP began increasing efforts to provide inmates with support behind jail walls.

“We started interviewing inmates,” said Peshon. “‘What brought you to jail? What can we do about it while you’re here?’” The CCP then began bolstering its community partnerships — such as with Lake Tahoe Community College — to provide inmates with the opportunity to receive treatment, learn job skills and build a resume while still behind bars.

But it didn’t stop there. The most difficult part of an inmate’s transition back into society is after they are released.

“Evidence shows that the more things you put on a person to do in order to succeed, the more likely they are to fail,” said Peshon.

For this reason, the CCP came up with the idea of a Community Corrections Center (CCC) — a one-stop shop supplementing the department of corrections where offenders could report to their probation officers, be assessed and receive treatment (including anger management, counseling, drub rehab, etc.) all in one place. The 4,500-square foot center located on Durock Road in Shingle Springs, which is scheduled for completion in August, includes health and human services, mental health services, probation, and nonprofit offices, a group treatment room, an adult school room, a computer lab and an extra room with space to expand to up to 6,000 square feet.

Other changes

In addition to looking at the success of its inmates, El Dorado County has focused on updating its jail facilities and health care options for inmates, who may now reside in jail for multiple years, as well as its GPS monitoring systems. The Public Safety Realignment Plan also allows for flash incarcerations, which allow probation officers to put parolees in jail for up to 10 days without going back to court.

“Studies have shown that quick and sure punishments are better,” said Sly. “If you have to wait for a trial, the point is often lost. With flash incarcerations, however, offenders know immediately that they messed up.”

El Dorado County safer

This fall, four of El Dorado County’s CCP executive board members will have transferred to other counties or retired from their positions. Chief Sly is himself planning to retire this September and says it is with great pride that he will hand over this program to the new chief probation officer.

“This is the biggest change in the justice system in 35 years. It’s been a chance for us to lead historical change and a unique opportunity for counties to focus resources where local needs are. El Dorado County had a good system in place before realignment — with room in our jails and outstanding collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office, probation and community agencies — and now, three years later, the county should feel safe, not fear. El Dorado County is safer because of realignment. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Discussion | 33 comments

The Mountain Democrat does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

1036-FrankJune 16, 2013 - 11:57 am

This all sounds good IF it worked, if not it should be back to the punishment model, not making the things in life everyone else had to earn or pay for free for inmates, things that the inmates failed to do like everyone else did, what about the regular tax payer who didn't break the law and didn't get the free health care, meals and job training? The facts are a large percentage of inmates are unemployable and return to crime soon upon release. The real world numbers I see are a crime wave across the state and thousands of revolving door early release felons the state has no idea how to locate and they face little serious time for parole violations now so they are cutting off their GPS bracelets. Most people I know have the distinct impression across the state that the realignment failed miserably for state inmates who should be in a prison who were sent to county jails.

Report abusive comment

Sam QuentonJune 17, 2013 - 8:41 am

Peshon would gladly put an arm around these crooks and ask them if their jail stay is comfortable enough for them. He needs to return to Berkely where he belongs.

Report abusive comment

1036-FrankJune 17, 2013 - 9:12 am

A liberal from Berkeley in charge of the jails? Sounds about right, one of the left over Gob's who was further promoted instead of fired. Might explain a lot of things going on in the jails, this feel good join hands and sing model for repeat career felons, shows no understanding of crime and criminals who will put on any act to get back out for their next felony. These policies and Gob's who are still hanging around need to be weeded out.

Report abusive comment

Jack HatchetJune 17, 2013 - 9:33 am

Yes, This liberal Captain was promoted without any real knowledge of law enforcement. He is a self proclaimed expert on all issues. Funny his arrests/seldom made don't show any of that. GOB central is seen.

Report abusive comment

1036-FrankJune 17, 2013 - 9:43 am

What they tried in his hometown of Berkeley he seems to have mastered and wants the model to spread to the local jails. All inmates are just "misunderstood" if given everything law abiding people work for and pay for free they will now become upstanding home owners and tax payers, just ask his friend Moonbeam, he knows. All you have to do is disarm the public and release thousands of career criminals and everything will be fine.

Report abusive comment

1036-FrankJune 17, 2013 - 10:44 am

By shifting all of these "Moonbeam Specials" to the Durock Road area, who thought this up? Then what? Where do they go from there? Start walking where? Anyone living or owning a business thereabouts, watch out here comes a lot of trouble.

Report abusive comment

Jim BeckJune 17, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Based on my families experience here there is next to zero help for the mentally impaired. In my opinion the county mental health (lack of) is one of a revolving door. The mentally ill are warehoused in jail with no or improper meds, family are required to pay in cash for canteen and the inmates is released with a useless check. The newly released inmate is off on the next adventure of petty crime, homelessness and drugs, until another arrest for being mentally ill. My 19 YO was warehoused in solitary confinement in our jail for six months. So don't talk to me about any form of compassion. The family member was only sent to a mental hospital AFTER the lawyer brought the words "cruel punishment" to the jailers attention. Everyone in county employment knows more about my kids crimes, drug use, meds, mental diagnosis etc. A parent is told nothing, ZERO. When asked they stare at their PC and say "I cannot tell you that."

Report abusive comment

Summit SamJune 17, 2013 - 4:02 pm

Probably because your jailbird off-spring is over 18yrs old and their medical records are priveledged info. You are no longer entitled. You should have been more involved with them, then maybe you'd have a clue of what your kids are up to. Don't blame the County for your lack of involvement and kids out of control behavior.

Report abusive comment

Jim BeckJune 17, 2013 - 4:24 pm

You have zero clue what my family has or has not done or attempted to do for my adult child. NONE. I wrote a response to a flowery article regarding the county mental health, or lack of it and our experience with the county. Your reading comprehension fails you. I have not blamed anyone. I wrote of my personal experience with the county and my inability to learn about my child's issues so that I could help, spiritually and financially. My hands are tied because I cannot force the child to do anything, nor will the county. The revolving door will continue.

Report abusive comment

FranJune 17, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Summit Sam that was a mean response to Jim...I have a family member who has medical issues--no crimes or drugs --but violent acts due to the medical some kind of empathy. Mine was not a child, but an adult responsible for my childhood-- I know how the system can fail you first hand.

Report abusive comment

1036-FrankJune 17, 2013 - 6:20 pm

The problem with mental health people who are also criminal offenders is there is really no law mandating treatment unless the mentally ill person agrees to treatment, most don't so it falls on law enforcement who aren't trained as mental health therapists. The county is often faced with no treatment option other then the jail option if crimes are involved. Nevada County is one of a few counties with mandatory treatment but I believe it is out-patient, new mandatory in-patient treatment law is needed with funding and new facilities.

Report abusive comment

Jim BeckJune 17, 2013 - 8:06 pm

Jail in our county is digital. You are guilty you serve time, you are innocent you are free. Our jailers have zero time for any Analog, someone in between needing help. They warehouse prisoners because that is their job and it is all they know how to do. And they care not for anyone else. Try calling them on the phone, they assume everyone is a scammer, friend of a drug dealer, friend of a criminal and have no time for any compassionate responses. And I/we pay their salary.

Report abusive comment

Jim BeckJune 17, 2013 - 9:11 pm

I have attempted to determine where my criminal child is. The broken EDSO website does not indicate anything. I pleaded with EDSO different shift staffers who whisper to me at the risk of losing their job that my kid has been transferred to LA on a dine and dash warrant. Now our state is broke, our county has financial issues and LA or EDSO thought my kids dine and dash was so important they sent a bus up here to pick the child/adult up. The real kicker is the child/adult served three days in LA and is now homeless/helpless in LA and does not speak Mexican. Great job LEOs and the courts. What's next, an autopsy?

Report abusive comment

samJune 18, 2013 - 3:00 am

Society is the problem behind career criminals because you blacklist them and give them no chance to succeed when released. So you have no reason to cry when they rob or steal from you because you caused it.

Report abusive comment

Summit SamJune 18, 2013 - 8:36 am

Typical 'entitlement' attitude. It's always everyone elses fault. Idiot!

Report abusive comment

samJune 18, 2013 - 10:07 am

Before you call people an idiot maybe you ought to take your meth smoking attitude to someone who is as ignorant as yourself. People like you is why this country sits where it is at because you are weak and feeble minded. When you live in a concentration camp one day, do not expect real people to help you out. IDIOT!

Report abusive comment

Summit SamJune 18, 2013 - 10:22 am

Sam, Judging by the time of night/morning with your origional comments, YOU should put down the meth pipe. And when your relatives come looking to rob or steal, we will eliminate them and save all the taxpayers $$$$ You are borning me so we are finished.

Report abusive comment

samJune 18, 2013 - 1:08 pm

So now you are a murderer and terrorist. Maybe you should be eliminated. And by the way I am Bi-polar and that is the reason for my late comment, so go "f" yourself. If you cannot handle the comments back, then keep your trash comments to yourself when you do not know what the hell you are talking about. You should not even be allowed to own a gun because of the things you say. Guns are for protection, not tweakers. And that is what your community is made up of.

Report abusive comment

Summit SamJune 18, 2013 - 2:23 pm

LOL Sounds like you're off your meds. Have a nice day.

Report abusive comment

DBJune 18, 2013 - 8:06 am

I am shocked at some of the insensitive comments on this story. Every human being in the system is there for a different reason. When I here ignorant comments like "jailbird "offspring" and ignorant taxpayers assuming that these people have never worked. It amazes me how little people know and how much they think they do know. (on every subject). I am sorry to say to a lot of you but when you end up in small towns most people are uneducated and narrow minded!

Report abusive comment

Em21June 18, 2013 - 9:52 am

As a product of El Dorado County, I am embarrassed to read the inaccurate and classless comments from some members of our community. Realignment is an issue that is much larger than the criminal justice system in our county and attacking individual members that are upholding the regulations and legal requirements implemented by the State illuminates some of the previous commentators limited understanding of the legislation. By definition, “realignment” means to return into proper order and restore – and its not optional for us. In 2011, the California Department of Corrections spent over 433 million dollars treating individuals with disabilities and mental illnesses who were incarcerated, according to their annual report. This is not order and restoration in my mind. Such funding could and should be utilized to prevent the stated individuals from being there in the first place. The purpose of jails is not to house members of our community forever. Just as students should not remain in secondary school for a lifetime, not all inmates are supposed to remain locked up for all time. Criticizing the creation and implementation of programs to ensure successful integration would in fact make us ignorant taxpayers, as continuing to spend money on the old ways of doing things without new results would only prove us as voters to be unintelligent and vastly unaware.

Report abusive comment

robertdnollJune 18, 2013 - 11:08 am

"does not speak Mexican" and it' law enforcement that caused him to be homeless and helpless

Report abusive comment

Jim BeckJune 18, 2013 - 11:52 am

I never wrote anything regarding any LEO being a part of my kids problem. I wrote our system is of little to no mental health help results in a revolving door of petty crime, jail and more petty crime. As a parent I am not allowed to know what medicine she is on so that I can purchase it for her. I don't know what crimes she is charged with etc. My child has been 5150'd at least a dozen or more times, that I am aware of. I have the money to help my kid. The kid has to want my help or "someone" needs to order it. From my uninformed perspective no one has ordered anything besides jail.

Report abusive comment

cookie65June 18, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Here is the poster child for "Public Safety Realignment". All of this is just the natural order of events when leftists run out of other peoples money.

Report abusive comment

1036-FrankJune 18, 2013 - 3:18 pm

Most of us fully understand how many career criminals have been released early under realignment. There have been crime waves of parolees everywhere because of it and the new joke of little time added to parole violations has increased the danger to the public. If the brilliant liberal Moonbeam wanted to solve a problem he could of deported the 33% of inmates that are illegals and built a few new prisons in Baja California with the savings and bussed the thousands early released there.

Report abusive comment

sweJune 18, 2013 - 3:46 pm

WOW! I read these comments every now and then and I see the same old suspects on every story that has to do with politics etc....They sure write like they know a lot. The problem is I think they are a little "touched" and definitely uneducated. Keep posting guys you are very entertaining!

Report abusive comment

James E.June 18, 2013 - 5:50 pm

Phil, do you think "swe" means us? Do we write like we know a lot, and are we touched and definitely uneducated? I wish "swe" had identified who he/she meant -- I won't be able to sleep tonight.

Report abusive comment

R.J. CarterJune 18, 2013 - 5:53 pm


Report abusive comment

James E.June 18, 2013 - 5:56 pm

R.J., I was tested too -- mentally balanced and healthy. What about you Phil?

Report abusive comment

Phil VeerkampJune 18, 2013 - 5:58 pm

Colonel, many side with "swe". Chin up! Soldier on.

Report abusive comment

FranJune 18, 2013 - 6:22 pm

James--any one who likes an old fashion peanut butter anything is highly intelligent in my book. I was two years old and hit newspapers across the USA for the court case involving my relative and their problems--I even shared a page with Jacqueline Kennedy I am very educated with mental health in California. I am happy that people respond to children now--they did not when I was young. I feel for Mr. must be hard to be in a position to help his child/adult--but not know how.

Report abusive comment

cookie65June 18, 2013 - 8:22 pm

They tested me. This jacket makes it really difficult to type. But it is easier than the zip-ties.

Report abusive comment

concerned citizenJune 18, 2013 - 8:36 pm

My adult child also has mental health/physical disabilities and the system within the walls of the jail are very frustrating. If you haven't experienced it you don't even have a clue. And yes, when you go up to the window down stairs in booking, the staff are quite busy on their county owned computers looking at each others vacation pictures, facebook, email etc., and you are most definitely a nuisance. I have also worked inside the jail with an inmate (that I refer to as a patient) who was on hospice and dying. The behavior of a good portion (not all) of the correctional officers was very discouraging. The comments, jokes, staring and disrespectful comments astounded me. I have also attended parties with the correctional officers and deputies and was astounded at how they pounded their alcohol drinks, got rudely drunk and then jumped in their vehicles to drive home. Oh well, I guess they get to have their "mental health" medicine and it's ok for them and it's ok for them to drive under the influence. I believe that is breaking the law. Kudos to the probation department, who by far, is the most common sense, intelligent and compassionate department of the judicial system in this county. You do a great job Probation keep up the good work in spite of comments from the same ole bloggers.