March 25, 2021
The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, my office conducted an audit of Alameda, Fresno, and Los Angeles counties and the Board of State and Community Corrections (Corrections Board). Our assessment focused on public safety realignment, and we determined that these three counties and the Corrections Board have not done enough to mitigate the effects of realignment or effectively overseen related spending and services.
Among the effects that these counties have experienced since 2011, when the Legislature transferred from the State to counties the responsibility for incarcerating and supervising certain offenders, are the following:
- Fresno and Los Angeles have experienced increased jail overcrowding, and neither county has met the State’s jail capacity standards by reducing its jail population or taking other mitigating actions.
- Alameda and Fresno do not share sufficient information about inmates’ mental health with jail staff, who are responsible for deciding about inmates’ housing and safety.
- The counties’ jails often lack adequate outdoor and educational facilities to provide certain vocational and rehabilitative programs for inmates who serve terms longer than three years.
To support the counties’ realignment responsibilities and offset the costs of providing required public safety services, the State allocated $6 billion to California’s counties in fiscal year 2019–20. However, because the three counties we reviewed have narrowly interpreted the scope of public safety realignment funding, their Community Corrections Partnership committees—responsible for monitoring such spending—have overseen less than 20 percent of the funding the counties receive. Each county also maintains excessive realignment surpluses, which they could spend to improve public safety. Finally, the counties lack comprehensive planning and oversight for realignment spending, without which they cannot make informed decisions.
The Corrections Board has also narrowly interpreted the scope of realignment funding and it has not provided counties with sufficient guidance to report consistent information. As a result, the Corrections Board’s reports to the Legislature are incomplete and inconsistent, which hinders the Legislature’s ability to evaluate the effects of public safety realignment.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
California State Auditor