Assemblyman Ken Cooley this morning said his bill returning certain drug traffickers to prison to serve long-term sentences is not a challenge to the state's realignment program, but rather is part of a discussion on how to improve the current law.
After touring the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Galt, the Rancho Cordova Democrat said Assembly Bill 222 affects a relatively small group - about 40 inmates statewide whose terms are increased due to a sentence enhancement for selling, possessing or transporting excessive quantities -- more than one kilogram or 30 liters -- of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.
Cooley said those inmates don't fit in at Rio Cosumnes or other a county jail facilities, which focus on rehabilitation efforts such as education and vocational programs to help inmates return to society.
Rio Cosumnes houses 2,100 inmates, including 380 inmates who would normally be serving time in prison, but, after realignment, were sent to the jail. Realignment is the state's efforts to satisfy a court-order to drastically reduce the state prison population by shifting the responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the prison and parole system to county jails and probation.
Cooley said there needs to be a discussion about what is working under realignment and what is not.
"I think there's been a reluctance to try to figure out what adjustments are needed," Cooley said.
His bill is supported by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, who appeared at the press conference with him.
Cooley and Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, introduced another measure, Assembly Bill 601, to allow parole violators to be returned to state prison for up to one year.
Republican lawmakers have proposed another 10 bills pegged as a realignment reform package.
PHOTO CREDITt: Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Maubach at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Galt. The Sacramento Bee/Melody Gutierrez