We have more work to do. Reducing the justice system's costs without compromising public safety starts with the acknowledgment that the state has for too long punished people beyond its means, and too often those punishments did not fit the crime, or ultimately improve public safety. Fortunately, there are models in practice that counties can implement or expand for immediate impact.
San Francisco, Contra Costa and Santa Cruz are among many counties using split sentences — the person spends part of the time on supervised probation and the rest incarcerated — to ensure their jail populations do not increase post-realignment. Contra Costa County has shortened probation terms (18 months or less versus three- to five-year terms), which has produced significantly lower recidivism rates and probation caseloads.