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After decades of “tough on crime” policies and draconian sentencing practices, the state correctional system—one of the largest incarcerators in the largest incarcerating country in the world—is having to change.
It started last year when a U.S. Supreme Court decision (Brown v. Plata) found overcrowding in California’s prisons to be so severe as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The Plata decision requires California to reduce the state prison population by about 33,000 people by May 2013.
California responded with the Public Safety Realignment Act and said it would no longer take into state facilities or under state custody most people convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses. Those responsibilities were shifted to the counties.
After years of concern about the prison industrial complex build-up in California, finally, there’s an enormous political opening. The ACLU of California has been leading efforts to use this moment strategically and dramatically reform and improve CA’s criminal justice system.
We speak with Hanna Dershowitz, a staff attorney and Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Reform Advocate. Hanna is part of the ACLU’s statewide criminal justice reform team. You can find the ACLU's Think Outside The Box app at http://www.thinkoutsidetheboxca.org.
Find the ACLU realignment report at https://www.aclunc.org/docs/criminal_justice/public_safety_realignment_california_at_a_crossroads.pdf
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