L.A. County's top prosecutor Steve Cooley talks about the state’s controversial prison realignment program, which will transfer state prisoners to local jails to obey a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The question is does this give Sheriff Lee Baca too much power?
California’s new prison program, which will transfer state prisoners to local jails, is “an ill-conceived fool’s errand,” according to L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley.
“It was done too quickly. There was never any vetting through any criminal justice committee or the state legislature,” Cooley said. “It was strictly a budgetary decision passed after five hours of being introduced.”
The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that California needed to reduce its state prison population, but Cooley said it undermines the state’s sentencing policies.
“They may spend some portion of their state prison sentence in county jail, but I am predicting it will be very limited,” he said.
L.A. County could receive 6,000 to 8,000 realigned state prisoners and while Sheriff Lee Baca said the county could handle the increase, Cooley said Baca was “overly optimistic.”
Only non-serious, non-sexual, non-violent offenders will be eligible for the state-to-county transfer, but Cooley said that identification is very broad.
“They are serious criminals who will commit additional crimes,” he said.