After AB 109 and the passage of Proposition 47, everyone expected things to change significantly in the way that counties in California handle “Corrections and Rehabilitation”. We recently came read an associated press article, which highlighted the differences in incarceration rates between counties since the implementation of these laws. The article was had a lot of data on the hard numbers, but was a little short on the actual data of why different counties seem to have had such markedly different outcomes.
According to the article, Humboldt had the 6th largest drop of incarceration rates in California. Between 2007-2014, Humboldt’s incarceration rate went down by 32%. That’s a huge decline. The question is why?
Both property crime and violent crime seem to be on the rise in Humboldt. Pretty much everyone in the county has been a victim of theft, or other petty crime. So it doesn’t seem that the bad guys are committing fewer crimes. Is the change in the incarceration rate an indication of the high rate of drug abuse and drug arrests in Humboldt? Maybe, but that can’t be the whole picture.
What is the jails new policy regarding who to release and who to keep? It would be very informative for the public and the policy makers to know this information. For instance, we remember not too long ago when meth dealers were getting released because of “overcrowding”. http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2013/jul/3/eureka-meth-dealer-arrested-cited-released/
Is that still happening? We would hope not, but there’s no way to know without knowing the jails policy.
It would also be interesting to know how Humboldt compares with other counties. For instance, do other counties with steadily rising crime over the last few years also have the same decreases in incarceration rates?
Whatever is going on, it seems to the Examiner that with all the extra room in the jail, suspects who victimize people should be held to answer for their charges. Knowing that there is more room in the jail should lead Humboldt to conversations regarding how we should deal with the rampant crime. Will jail solve all the problems with crime in Humboldt? Absolutely not. But, will extra room at the jail help to keep the serial thieves and others committing crimes against innocent people held behind bars to prevent them from victimizing more people? We hope so.
Even more important is how to allocate funds that were being used to jail suspects and criminals. If the jails rate is down by 32%, wouldn’t it make sense to re-purpose some of those funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment? Using the money not being spent on incarceration for actual rehabilitation seems like a “no brainer”, but we haven’t heard anyone on the BOS bring this up. In fact, it seems that the BOS is more concerned with raising the pay scale for administrators in Law Enforcement than with finding funding solutions with the woeful lack of treatment options in this county. Hopefully the AP story will start some conversations that will dramatically change the way “rehabilitation” is being handled locally.
AP story Here: