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Lessons Learned: The Santa Cruz County Story
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By Daniel Macallair, Scott MacDonald, Mike Males, and Catherine McCracken, June 2012, The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ)

As in all California counties, justice and corrections officials in Santa Cruz County, California, recently were faced with the need to respond to state policy changes through AB109, the state's 2011 legislation that transfers responsibility for supervising some inmates from the state to counties.026514

Santa Cruz County agreed to participate in a Jail Alternatives Initiative, a collaborative partnership with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley Law School, the Santa Cruz County Probation Department, and the Placer County Probation Department. The project included an intensive data analysis conducted by CJCJ in conjunction with the Santa Cruz Probation and Sheriff Departments and the Superior Court.

Because of the county's work on a data-driven and structured decision-making approach, non-sentenced inmates make up about half of the Santa Cruz County jail population. Elsewhere in the state, that proportion can be as high as 70% or more.

According to the authors, "Santa Cruz’s story is reflective of an intentional effort by local stakeholders to improve the local justice system. Through the utilization of data-driven analysis, Santa Cruz justice administrators embraced a practitioner/researcher relationship to target specific areas within their justice system most amenable to significant changes. This case study demonstrates the county’s success in employing deliberate strategies to reduce jail occupancy. For example, the Santa Cruz Probation Department’s pretrial service program has allowed the county to maintain lower levels of non-sentenced individuals within their jail than the state average."

They continue, "If California’s other counties jailed their adult arrestees at Santa Cruz’s lower rate, approximately 43,000 inmates would be held in jails statewide instead of the current 74,000."

Posted Tue, Apr 2 2013 9:36 AM by Susan Powell


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