The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek

Joan Petersilia Interview Highlights

Petersilia on California's Criminal Justice Realignment:
“As you state, California realignment is the biggest change in sentencing and corrections that we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes and probably since the 1950s. Realignment basically changes the responsibility for convicted criminals. It takes a fair amount of the prison population – basically, when it’s all done, about a third of the prison population – and realigns them to county jails and county probation officers. So the realignment basically shifts the responsibility for a very large number of current prisoners back to the counties and back to probation.”

Petersilia on California's Overincarceration:
“We have overincarerated. It’s breaking the state budget. And so let’s get back to the original purpose of prison, which was to house the most dangerous people convicted in the state. And if realignment works, five years out, that’s what we should have.”

Petersilia on the Need for Researching and Evaluating Realignment:
“You know it’s so disheartening, I can hardly voice it to you, to be honest with you. It goes against every other trend in every other state, and as you said, at the federal government, but it also goes against California’s recent history. Every other major initiative in modern history in California has had a set-aside, that if you’re going to spend all of this money to do things differently, somebody should be accountable and report back to the legislature about how well it worked. Realignment, we’re investing much more then any of these previous initiatives, and yet isn’t it rather odd that we didn’t set aside any money for evaluation?”

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