Case Study: Kern County's Virtual Jail

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KERN COUNTY’S VIRTUAL JAIL
SUMMARY When California’s Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 became law last year, Kern County, CA, was faced with a significant increase in the number of offenders to be supervised by the Sheriff’s Office or housed in one of its four existing jails. At full implementation of the Act, projections were over 2,000 additional offenders. They built a “Virtual Jail” system around the idea of reliable, innovative electronic monitoring technology that will keep offenders accountable, promote community safety and save taxpayer dollars.

“We have an excess of inmates, and we have to figure out how to manage them.” “Either we put inmates out and they’re free, or we have a system that gives us some control.” “We can’t build our way out of this situation.” - Sgt. Greg Gonzales Kern County Sheriff’s Office

OVERCROWDING & AB109 REALIGNMENT Overcrowded prisons and the inability of the state to provide adequate medical care to those in overcrowded prisons were the basis of a lawsuit that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that required California to reduce the population in state prisons. California lawmakers responded with the Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, also known as AB109. One of the most significant changes has been the dramatic impact on California’s county jails, originally intended for less serious offenders with sentences of less than a year. Now, some people who would have previously gone to state prison will go to county jail even if their sentence is longer than 12 months. Under California’s realignment, individuals convicted of non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual crimes (referred to as “non-non-nons”) will now serve their time in county jail instead of prison no matter how long the sentence is, as long as they do not have any serious or violent prior convictions. No one will be released early because of realignment. Before realignment, everyone released from state prison was placed on...
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