California’s criminal justice system: challenges ahead

Attention: criminal, civil rights, government, and legal reporters

Experts debate the pros and cons of the state’s radical new penal policies

Media Contact:  Susan Gluss (510) 642-6936,

WHAT: Criminal justice symposium

California’s top criminologists, judges, advocates, probation officers, and academics will examine the controversial issues behind Governor Brown’s unprecedented move to reform state penal policies. In this one-day symposium, experts on both sides will discuss the immediate and long-term impact of policies to radically reduce the number of inmates in the state’s prisons.

Panelists will discuss whether this profound change is feasible, and, if so, what safeguards are needed to ensure its success. They will debate a range of topics,including the Governor’s plan to shut down the state’s juvenile justice system; the over-incarceration of African-Americans; and the impact of “realignment” on parole rules and sentencing. They will tackle questions such as: How will the transfer of violent juveniles to county jails impact low-level youth offenders? What are the new oversight roles for state judges? Most critically, what do these changes mean for the future of criminal justice in California?

The symposium is sponsored by UC Berkeley School of Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy. It’s one in an annual series named after former professor Caleb Foote, known as a fierce advocate for criminal rights. This 2012 symposium honors the late juvenile justice reformer Allen Breed, former director of the California Youth Authority.

Friday, March 16, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 

A full agenda is online here.

Berkeley Law, room 105 in Boalt Hall. See campus map.

·     Troy Duster, author, Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population; former dir., Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley.

·     Anthony Kline, presiding Justice of the First District Court of Appeal.

·     Barry Krisberg, research and policy dir., Warren Institute; chair of the CA Attorney General’s Research Advisory Committee.

·     Bart Lubow, dir., Program for High-Risk Youth at Annie E. Casey Foundation; manager, JuvenileDetention Alternatives Initiative.

·     Don Specter, exec dir., Prison Law Office, a nonprofit that provides fee legal services to inmates.

·     Jeanne Woodford, sr. fellow, Warren Institute; former Warden of San Quentin; exec. dir., Death Penalty Focus.

·     Franklin Zimring, Berkeley Law professor; author of most recent book, The City that Became Safe.

A full list of participants is online here.  

RSVP: Register free for the conference here or go to:

SOURCES: For information about the conference itself, contact Barry Krisberg 510-642-8589, or

BACKGROUND: Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment of the penal system, California is transferring thousands of nonviolent felons from state prisons to counties. Parole supervision of these inmates will shift from state parole officers to county probation officers. The governor also plans to shut down all state youth prisons by 2014, mixing violent and sexual juvenile offenders with the counties’ non-violent, low-level youthful offenders.

There is stiff opposition to some of the governor’s plan from advocates, probation chiefs, judges, and district attorneys. Critics say the counties do not have the programs and resources to manage an influx of prisoners; supporters say it’s the only way to cut costs and reduce the state’s overcrowded prison population.   Brown’s realignment plan came in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering California to cut its inmate population to 110,000.