Sen. Sharon Runner added her voice Wednesday to critics of Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment plan, which would see thousands of state prisoners transfer to cash-strapped county jail systems.
“Now is the time for Californians to get a dog, buy a gun and install an alarm system,” said Runner, R-Lancaster. “The state of California is no longer going to protect you.”
Facing mounting criticism from counties – on Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to reject mentally ill state prisoners unless their mental health records were sent in advance – Brown vowed Wednesday to do “whatever it takes” to secure sufficient funding for law enforcement officials to manage prisoners in “smarter and cost-effective ways.”
“I’m not leaving Sacramento until we get a constitutional guarantee to protect law enforcement and the whole realignment process,” Brown said in a Sacramento speech with local government and police supporters at his side.
“We will do whatever it takes to get the constitutional protection because public safety is the number one responsibility of government. I recognize that and I want to work with you to achieve it,” he said.
Runner, who represents most of the Santa Clarita Valley in the state Senate, said Brown’s speech fell short.
“Today’s speech by the governor doesn’t tell the whole story about the true public impact of shifting responsibility for inmates from the state to the counties,” Runner said.
“The public safety realignment plan (which) he proposed and signed into law after getting Democrats in the Legislature to pass it, means that more than 35,000 convicted criminals will head to our streets instead of prisons where they belong,” she said.
“It is not only irresponsible and bad public policy but quite frankly, it is extremely dangerous,” she said.
The state is providing funding to counties for the prisoner shift for the first year, but there is no mechanism in place to provide funding in future years.
Brown reaffirmed his commitment Wednesday to “pursuing a constitutional amendment to protect this funding in perpetuity,” according to a statement from his office.
Runner isn’t buying it.
“The state is out of money,” she said. “Counties are out of money. County jails are already overcrowded. With a lack of funding and jail space, sending state prisoners to county jails will handcuff local law enforcement officials and will result in the early release of thousands of convicted criminals.”
“There is simply not enough space to accommodate the shift,” she said.