The deadline to ease overcrowding in California's prisons was just a little over two months away – February 24. Earlier this month, however, federal judges extended the deadline, giving Governor Jerry Brown and the state's administration until April 18 to reduce prison populations. They also requested that California limit time mentally ill prisoners are sentenced to solitary confinement.
The move to ease prison crowding – known officially as realignment – began when federal judges ordered the state to reduce prison crowding. In April 2011, the California Legislator and Governor Brown passed a measure to shift responsibility for certain offenders from the state to local counties and jurisdictions. Realignment was pursued as a result of severely overcrowded prisons – a problem that has affected states throughout the nation.
In an effort to reduce prison populations, sweeping policy changes were made throughout the criminal justice system. A large part of the problem stemmed from the fact that low-level, non-violent offenders – many convicted of low-priority drug offenses – were serving lengthy prison sentences. New policies have addressed this issue as well as other ways to reduce inmate numbers, including new policies for the mentally ill and early release for elderly or frail prisoners.
With the new deadline, officials say there will be more time to create safe and long-term solutions. More sensible policies will also have an enduring effect on individuals who may face criminal allegations and incarceration in the future. Less of a focus on prosecuting low-level drug crimes, for example, has been hailed for being fiscally responsible and for providing accused drug offenders with rehabilitation rather than punishment alone.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers remain up-to-date with all policy changes in local, state, and federal criminal justice systems. New policies for leniency in drug crime cases, for instance, provide additional options for those who face these types of allegations today. Regardless of the case or charge, we make it a point to act as bold advocates for our clients, and to fight aggressively for their freedoms and futures.
If you or your loved one is currently facing criminal charges in Los Angeles or any of the surrounding communities in Southern California, call (800) 462-7160 for a FREE consultation.