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ACLU Report Critical Of California's Prison Realignment Program

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – California has transferred about 15 percent of its prison population to the counties since last October in a move to reduce overcrowding.

However, the ACLU is out with a new report that criticizes how counties are dealing with all the new prisoners.

In exchange for taking in nearly 22,500 inmates, the state is giving counties hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on incarceration and rehabilitation. Six months after the so called "realignment" program began, the ACLU is complaining too much of that money is going towards rebuilding or expanding jails, rather than less expensive alternatives such as electronic monitoring and drug treatment.

The ACLU argues this isn't really reducing the jail population, its just locking people up in a different place. But sheriffs argue that the ACLU doesn't understand the potential problems ahead.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

"You've got to be somewhat risk adverse here," said Stanford law professor Robert Weisberg. "You don't know exactly what the increased inflow of prisoners to the counties will be over the next year or so and you have to build some capacity. In addition, all of these alternative forms of incarceration, such as GPS monitoring and so-on, are very complicated. They require training of personnel and new techniques, so it makes perfect sense that it will take awhile."

The ACLU also wants to change the way money is doled out to counties. Instead of giving the most money to the counties that sent the most felons to prison, it says counties should be rewarded by the number of inmates they managed to keep out of jail.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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