BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 926


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          Date of Hearing:  April 7, 2015
          Counsel:               Sandra Uribe



                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY


                                  Bill Quirk, Chair





          AB  
                     926 (Jones-Sawyer) - As Amended  April 6, 2015




          SUMMARY:  Implements an earned-compliance-credit program which  
          provides eligible parolees with the opportunity to reduce the  
          length of parole and direct the savings to job training and  
          housing support for parolees.  Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Requires the California Department of Corrections and  
            Rehabilitation (CDCR) to establish rules and regulations for  
            implementing an earned compliance credit program that provides  
            eligible parolees with the opportunity to reduce their period  
            of parole supervision upon compliance with their parole  
            conditions.

          2)Authorizes CDCR to award earned compliance credits to eligible  
            parolees who are in compliance with the terms and conditions  
            of parole, but who are not subject to lifetime parole.

          3)Provides that for each full calendar month of compliance with  
            parole conditions, earned compliance credits equal to the  
            number of days in that month shall be deducted from the  
            parolee's parole discharge date.

          4)Provides that earned compliance credits begin to accrue after  








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            the first full calendar month of compliance with  
            parole-supervision conditions.

          5)Requires earned compliance credits to be applied to the parole  
            discharge date within 30 days of the end of the month in which  
            the credits were earned.  

          6)Requires CDCR or the supervising parole agent to notify the  
            parole authority in the impending discharge with 60 days  
            before the date of final discharge.

          7)Specifies that if the time served on parole combined with the  
            earned compliance credits satisfies the terms of parole, the  
            parole authority shall order the final discharge of the  
            parolee.

          8)States that a parolee is deemed to be in compliance with the  
            conditions of parole supervision if a citation was not issued  
            to the parolee and the parolee was not arrested as a result of  
            a violation of the conditions of parole supervision.

          9)Deems the following persons eligible to participate in the  
            earned compliance credit program:

             a)   A person paroled under Penal Code sections 3000 or  
               3000.08; or

             b)   A person serving a California sentence for an eligible  
               offense in any jurisdiction under the Interstate Compact  
               for adult Offender Supervision.

          10)Disallows the accrual of earned compliance credits in any  
            month during which any of the following circumstances apply:

             a)   The parolee has absconded from supervision;

             b)   The parolee has been arrested for a new offense.   
               Credits shall not accrue for months between the arrest and  
               the final outcome of the arrest.  If the charges are  
               dropped, dismissed, or the parolee is otherwise absolved,  
               the parolee shall be deemed compliant and shall have the  
               lost credits restored, beginning on the first day of the  








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               month in which the arrest occurred. 

             c)   The parolee is serving a term of incarceration for a  
               parole violation or a new conviction.

          11)Requires CDCR to annually provide the following information  
            to the Director of the Department of Finance and the  
            Legislative Analyst's Office:

             a)   The number and percentage of qualifying parolees;

             b)   The total amount of credits earned by parolees within  
               the year; and

             c)   The average amount of credits earned by parolees within  
               the year.

          12)Creates the Safe Communities Grant Program Fund within the  
            state treasury and specifies that it is continuously  
            appropriated without regard to fiscal year to carry out its  
            purpose.

          13)Requires the Director of Finance to calculate the savings  
            accrued to the state from the implementation of the earned  
            compliance credit program beginning on or before July 31,  
            2017, and annually thereafter.

          14)Requires the Controller to transfer the total amount of  
            savings accrued from the General Fund to the Safe Communities  
            Grant Program Fund before August 31, 2017, and annually  
            thereafter.

          15)Establishes the Safe Communities Grant Program to be  
            administered by CDCR in consultation with specified agencies.   


          16)Requires CDCR to hold a minimum of two public meetings in the  
            process of developing the program in order allow for public  
            comment and input. 

          17)Requires CDCR to allocate monies deposited in the Fund to the  
            counties to provide employment and housing support for  








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            parolees.

          18)Defines the following terms:

             a)   "Department" means the California "Department of  
               Corrections and Rehabilitation."

             b)   "Parole authority" means the "Board of Parole." 

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Provides, generally, for a period of post-prison supervision  
            immediately following a period of incarceration in state  
            prison.  (Pen. Code,  3000 et seq.)  

          2)Provides for varying lengths of parole, depending on the  
            commitment offense and the date of commitment.  (Pen. Code,   
            3000, subd. (b).)

          3)Requires all persons paroled before October 1, 2011 to remain  
            under the supervision of the California Department of  
            Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) until jurisdiction is  
            terminated by operation of law or until parole is discharged.   
            (Pen. Code,  3000.09.)

          4)Requires the following persons released from prison on or  
            after July 1, 2013, be subject to parole under the supervision  
            of CDCR:

             a)   A person who committed a serious felony listed in Penal  
               Code section 1192.7, subdivision (c);

             b)   A person who committed a violent felony listed in Penal  
               Code section 667.5, subdivision (c); 

             c)   A person serving a Three-Strikes sentence;

             d)   A high risk sex offender; 

             e)   A mentally disordered offender (Pen. Code, 3000.08,  
               subd. (a));









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             f)   A person required to register as a sex offender and  
               subject to a parole term exceeding three years at the time  
               of the commission of the offense for which he or she is  
               being released; and,

             g)   A person subject to lifetime parole at the time of the  
               commission of the offense for which he or she is being  
               released.  (Pen. Code,  3000.08, subds. (a) and (c).)

          5)Authorizes parole officials to "impose additional and  
            appropriate conditions of supervision," upon a finding of good  
            cause that the parolee has committed a violation of law or  
            violated his or her conditions of parole; those may include  
            "rehabilitation and treatment services and appropriate  
            incentives for compliance, and impose immediate, structured,  
            and intermediate sanctions for parole violations, including  
            flash [short term] incarceration in a county jail."     (Pen.  
            Code,  3000.08, subd. (d).)

          6)Provides that the parole agent or peace officer may bring a  
            parolee before the court for a violation of the conditions of  
            parole.  If the court finds that the parolee has violated a  
            condition of parole, the court may impose any of the following  
            sanctions for parole violations, as specified:

             a)   Return the person to parole supervision with  
               modifications of conditions, if appropriate, including a  
               period of incarceration in county jail;

             b)   Revoke parole and order the person to confinement in the  
               county jail;

             c)   Refer the person to a reentry court pursuant to Section  
               3015 or other evidence-based program in the court's  
               discretion; and  (Pen. Code,  3000.08, subd. (f).)

             d)   States that confinement for parole violation shall not  
               exceed a period of 180 days in the county jail.  (Pen.Code,  
                3000.08, subd. (f).)

          7)Authorizes the early discharge of a parolee from parole upon  
            successful completion of a certain amount of parole time,  








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            known as continuous parole.  The eligible discharge date is  
            based on the commitment offense and the statutorily-required  
            length of parole.  (Pen. Code,  3001.)

          8)Authorizes CDCR to recommend to the parole board that a parole  
            be retained on parole for good cause.  (Pen. Code,  3001.)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

          COMMENTS:  

          1)Author's Statement:  According to the author, "There is a  
            growing momentum among states seeking to safely reduce  
            corrections costs and reduce recidivism.  California has the  
            opportunity to take this policy one step further by  
            reinvesting resources to ensure greater reductions in  
            recidivism and improve outcomes for individuals, families and  
            communities.

          This bill creates an earned compliance credit program that  
            provides eligible parolees with the opportunity to reduce  
            their period of parole supervision upon compliance with their  
            parole conditions.  Savings from the reduced parole  
            supervision shall be reinvested into job training and housing  
            support for state parolees to reduce recidivism." 

          2)Changes to Parole As a Result of Criminal Justice Realignment:  
             Prior to realignment, individuals released from prison were  
            placed on parole and supervised in the community by parole  
            agents of CDCR.  If it was alleged that a parolee had violated  
            a condition of parole, he or she would have a revocation  
            proceeding before the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH).  If  
            parole was revoked, the offender would be returned to state  
            prison for violating parole.

          Realignment shifted the supervision of some released prison  
            inmates from CDCR parole agents to local probation  
            departments.  Parole under the jurisdiction of CDCR for  
            inmates released from prison on or after October 1, 2011 is  
            limited to those defendants whose term was for a serious or  
            violent felony; were serving a Three-Strikes sentence; are  
            classified as high-risk sex offenders; who are required to  








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            undergo treatment as mentally disordered offenders; or who,  
            while on certain paroles, commit new offenses.  (Pen. Code,   
            3000.08, subds. (a) & (c), and 3451, subd. (b).)  All other  
            inmates released from prison are subject to up to three years  
            of Post Release Community Supervision under local supervision.  
             (Pen. Code,  3000.08, subd. (b), and 3451, subd. (a).)

          Realignment also changed where an offender is incarcerated for  
            violating parole.  Most individuals can no longer be returned  
            to state prison for violating a term of supervision; offenders  
            serve the revocation term in county jail.  (Pen. Code,   
            3056, subd. (a), and 3458.) There is a 180-day limit to  
            incarceration.  (Pen. Code,  3056, subd. (a), and 3455,  
            subd. (c).)  The only offenders who are eligible for return to  
            prison for violating parole are life-term inmates paroled  
            pursuant to Penal Code section 3000.1 (e.g., murderers,  
            specific life term sex offenses).

          Additionally, realignment changed the process for revocation  
            hearings.  As of July 1, 2013, the trial courts assumed  
            responsibility for holding all revocation hearings for those  
            individuals who remain under the jurisdiction of CDCR.   
            Moreover, intermediate sanctions, including flash  
            incarceration, also became available for state parolees on  
            July 1, 2013.  (Pen. Code,  3000.08, subd. (d).)  Despite the  
            new authority to impose terms of flash incarceration upon  
            state-supervised parolees, the Division of Adult Parole  
            Operations (DAPO) has made a policy decision not to utilize  
            flash incarceration.  (See Valdivia v. Brown, Response to May  
            6 Order, filed 05/28/13, p. 17.)  CDCR has informed this  
            committee that at this time DAPO is still not utilizing flash  
            incarceration.
          
          3)Discharge after certain periods of continuous parole:  "The  
            granting of parole is an essential part of our criminal  
            justice system and is intended to assist those convicted of  
            crime to integrate into society as constructive individuals as  
            soon as possible and alleviate the cost of maintaining them in  
            custodial facilities."  (In Re Vasquez (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th  
            370, 379-380, citations omitted.)

          Under current law, most parolees can be discharged from parole  








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            early if they successfully complete a certain period of parole  
            and there is not good cause to retain them.  When a parolee  
            serves a period of time on continuous parole (i.e. without  
            violations, revocations, or absconding), the parole board must  
            conduct a discharge review.  Depending on the underlying  
            commitment offense and the statutorily-imposed length of  
            parole, different time periods apply in determining the  
            presumptive discharge date.  For example, if a parolee has a  
            three-year parole term, he or she is eligible for discharge  
            after one year, assuming the parolee has had successful  
            continuing parole.  Likewise, a parolee with a five-year  
            parole term can be discharged after three years if the parolee  
            has been on parole continuously.  Unless the board acts to  
            retain the parolee after the presumptive discharge date, the  
            parolee is discharged from parole.

          The earned compliance credits proposed by this bill will  
            presumably advance the possible discharge dates. 
          
          4)Argument in Support:  The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,  
            the sponsor of this bill, writes, "There is a growing momentum  
            among states to safely reduce correction costs and reduce  
            recidivism.  Gone are the days of increasing penalties and  
            building supermax prisons - states are now engaging in reforms  
            that downsize the prison apparatus and incentivize and reward  
            positive behavior and participation.  According to a report by  
            the Association of State Correctional Administrators, 6 out of  
            7 state respondents who implemented an earned compliance  
            credit program stated that public opinion on the reduction of  
            community supervision has not been a problem in managing the  
            program.   Further, 6 out of 7 states that have an earned  
            compliance credit program for parolees or probationers have  
            seen reductions in costs for supervision.  Similar to these  
            efforts, AB 926 will help save the state be reducing the costs  
            associated with parole supervision and the costs associated  
            with returns to prison.

          "In the last decade, more than a dozen states have implemented  
            earned credit mechanisms for people on parole or probation.   
            The impact of these policies has yielded substantial savings  
            without harming public safety.  California has the opportunity  
            to take this policy one step further by reinvesting resources  








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            to ensure greater reductions in recidivism and improve  
            outcomes for individuals, families, and communities."

          5)Argument in Opposition:  The California District Attorneys  
            Association states, "Requiring the California Department of  
            Corrections and Rehabilitation and Board of Parole Hearings to  
            establish a credit program may sound better than proposing to  
            cut supervision periods in half, but, in reality, that's  
            exactly what AB 926 does.

          "Although this bill seeks to allow parolees to 'earn' credits by  
            complying with the conditions of their release, the practical  
            effect is a 50 percent reduction in the length of every grant  
            of supervision.  This bill does not require parolees to do  
            anything other than what they're already supposed to be doing.  
             In order for someone not to earn credits, he or she would  
            have to abscond from supervision, violate the conditions of  
            his or her release, or commit a new offense.  At that point,  
            supervision would be revoked anyway.

          "At a time when California is putting more offenders back into  
            the community soon, the last thing we need is less  
            supervision.  This jeopardizes public safety, and runs counter  
            to the goals of using community-based supervision and  
            treatment in lieu of incarceration to rehabilitate offenders.   
            To do so in the name of 'Safe Communities' is a particularly  
            tragic irony.

          "While we certainly recognize the connection between employment,  
            stable housing, and a decreased likelihood of recidivating, we  
            disagree with the wisdom of funding those programs by reducing  
            community supervision of parolees.  Additionally, much of the  
            savings generated by this proposal would likely be consumed by  
            the additional costs of administering the new credits scheme,  
            further depriving our communities of any potential benefit."

          6)Related Legislation:  AB 512 (Stone), would increase the  
            number of weeks of additional program credit reductions that  
            may be awarded to a prisoner.  AB 512 is pending hearing in  
            this committee today.

          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:








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          Support
          Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (Co-Sponsor)
          Friends Committee on Legislation of California (Co-Sponsor)
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
          California Catholic Conference
          California Public Defenders Association
          Californians United for a Responsible Budget
          Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice
          Drug Policy Alliance
          Fair Chance Project
          Forward Together
          Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
          National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter
          Prison Activist Resource Center
          Prison Law Office
          Western Regional Advocacy Project


          Opposition


          California District Attorneys Association


          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Sandy Uribe / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744