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California's Reallignment Removes Prison Option for Felons

California’s new realignment, AB 109 has taken about 500 felony crimes that used to be eligible to send people to prison and removed that option. Instead those offenders will be sent to county jails   to serve out their sentences and when jail time is done they are released with no supervision. Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell says it is having an impact on some cases that are currently in the criminal justice system.

“So where we used to have a bit of a hammer as a prosecutor in the negotiation for a resolution in a case, which was the threat of the prison sentence, we no longer have that. So it’s changed the whole paradigm or the whole landscape of where the prosecutors work, the judges work and the defense attorneys.”

One notable case is the trial of William Campbell who pleaded no contest to 11 counts of obtaining money under false pretense. District Attorney Newell says the victims in Campbell’s case want to see him serve time in prison, but now that might not happen.

“It was understood, I think, that the parties, including the defense, and the judge, that we were looking for a prison sentence. And as of October first, he hasn’t been sentenced yet. So when he’s sentenced, he’ll be sentenced under this new paradigm, under the realignment and we will only have an option of doing his prison time, if he gets prison from the judge, to do it in the county jail.”

Nevada County is expected to receive $515,000 over the next nine months to fund the realignment,  but local officials say that may not be enough leaving the counties to pick up the slack.

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