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LAS-ELC Urges Alameda County to Focus on Needs of Inmates With Disabilities
The California correctional system is at a crossroads. Decades of draconian policies have led to unprecedented rates of incarceration, particularly of persons of color and persons with significant disabilities. Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding that overcrowded prisons violated the federal constitution, the Legislature and the Governor of California have decided to make structural changes that are intended to permanently reduce the number of individuals held in state prisons and juvenile facilities.
Under these changes, generally referred to as “realignment,” California’s 58 counties are assuming greater responsibility for supervising adults and juveniles convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses, and for those released from correctional facilities after serving sentences for such crimes. Alameda County is receiving nearly $30 million from the state to implement its realignment programs.
We know that about 40 percent of incarcerated adults and juveniles are persons with significant physical and mental disabilities, such as psychiatric disabilities (including severe mental illness), intellectual disabilities, learning and attention disabilities, and histories of substance addiction. Yet few, if any, of the county plans released to date sufficiently emphasize the disability-related needs of the reentry population. Alameda County’s proposal for 2012-2013 does not even mention the needs of persons with disabilities.
On behalf of a coalition of 19 organizations that provide legal and disability-related services to individuals with disabilities, including in Alameda County, LAS-ELC’s Claudia Center has submitted a letter calling for greater attention to the needs of inmates, and former inmates, with disabilities. Click here to see the full letter.
The realignment proposal for Alameda County will be considered at the Board of Supervisor’s January 8, 2013 meeting.