From the President

January 2, 2012

How’s AB 109 working out for you and your county? Hopefully, reasonably well or at least moving in a positive direction. While I haven’t heard of any horror stories yet, there are definitely issues that need to be worked out. From not having enough resources to supervise a larger than expected number of offenders placed on community supervision, to sentencing demands that have offenders serving multiple years in local custody, these are but two of the issues to be worked out. The reality is that the implementation of AB 109 is forcing local jurisdictions to meet the demands of a revised criminal justice system, at a time when the best options feel like choosing between bad and worse.

I have faith that we can supervise these offenders while keeping the community safe, if we have a guaranteed funding stream and the time to effectively implement our respective plans to get the job done. Unfortunately, politicians and the public work on different timeframes. That’s not specifically meant as criticism or cynicism, rather reality. Politicians are worried about polls and election cycles, while the public is rightly concerned about their safety and the cost of getting said job done. Let’s hope that both realize that it took us decades to get to where we’re at today, and that it’s going to take more than a few months or a few years to get it right. In order for us to succeed, patience  and persistence will be required. In the end, those of us in the spotlight of realignmentand in the sights of public employee attack groups need to remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote if we are to remain focused on our goal and survive the journey ahead:

"We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Benjamin Franklin -1776.

Not directly related to AB 109, but as important in its own way, are the trigger cuts going into effect as a result of lower than projected revenues for the state for the 2011-2012 budget year. Due to the shortfalls, on January 2nd the state began charging counties up to
$125,000 annually for every youthful offender committed to a Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility! There is some hope, as those convicted as adults (Direct Files) will be eligible for transfer to CDCR once they turn 18 years old. That might just help
alleviate some of the costs, but it doesn’t solve the problem altogether. To date, I haven’t heard of a solution to the funding issue and as a result counties we may end up having to rehouse most or all of the offenders that they sent to DJJ respectively.

2012 is shaping up to be a watershed year, one in which public employees and their respective labor groups will again be on the defensive, and a year where decisive battles must be won if they are to survive. Two separate ballot proposals would restructure California's public employee pension system by requiring government workers to pay more for their future retirement benefits and health care. Supporters argue that the governor’s recently submitted pension-reform package does not go far enough to limit benefits and address billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities. They plan to pursue whichever approach polls best after their petitions are cleared for signature gathering. Another proposed ballot initiative, the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act
(AKA: Paycheck Deception, by those of us who would be affected by passage of the initiative), has actually qualified for the November 2012 ballot. Passage of the initiative by the voters would prohibit unions from doing the following: making direct monetary
contributions to state and local candidates using member dues, contributing to ballot measure committees if the funds are collected via payroll deduction, and making independent expenditures in support of opposition to state and local candidates and ballot
measures made from funds collected via payroll deduction. If the above initiatives are passed by the voters, the labor movement would be set back decades and likely would never fully recover.

In the midst of realignment and an election year, you may ask yourself what you can do to increase probation’s chances for success with realignment and enhance our visibility  on probation related issues. Become part of the solution. Get involved with SCOPO, become informed about relevant topics to the field of probation, then plan to meet and educate your local and state legislators about what you do and why it is important to adequately allocate funding to probation. We need to be at the forefront of the battle to preserve and expand funding to probation, and be an active part of the discussion when probation and related labor issues are being discussed. One person and one organization can’t do this alone, especially considering what’s at stake. Consider this a call for probation to rise to the challenge, and take the lead in California’s future. Your future.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President