County supervisors do little to reform offender rehabilitation in Sacramento

Is it the stepchild of county budget dance?

Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli acknowledged the irony. After taking a principled stand on how state realignment funds should be spent—to the degree that his colleagues snatched final budgetary authority from a panel of law-enforcement heads—the board of supervisors used those very resources last week to backfill gaps in a patchwork budget.

“We didn't do much better,” a frustrated Nottoli told SN&R.

Supervisors shifted $1 million in realignment programming money to a sheriff's department that was eyeing a $15 million deficit due to increased operational costs and the loss of one-time funds.

Additionally, Sheriff Scott Jones indicated he wasn't willing to eke out additional savings through what's become the routine practice in recent years of eliminating unfilled positions. The department uses on-call deputies to cover those positions. If supervisors pushed to eliminate the roughly 30 vacancies, Jones said he would plug them with full-time sheriff's deputies.

“So, if we start tearing away at that, then that strategy starts to lose its value,” Jones told supervisors. “I would do it to protect the officers and the vacancies.”

Jones also said he would have a hard time justifying the eliminations to a deputy sheriff's association that tentatively agreed to $5 million in reductions.

Nottoli believed the result would be halving patrol by about 200 officers who would be assigned to the jails.

In the end, it resulted in the board stealing from Peter to pay Paul, and using money it insisted just last month needs to fund rehabilitation for re-entering offenders.

“We, as a board, engaged in that conversation, and then we see that capacity gobbled up over difficult choices, so what gives?” Nottoli told SN&R.

Lee Seale, new chairman of the Community Corrections Partnership—the group supervisors wrested financial authority from—said the $1 million was set aside for community-based organizations.

“Yes, less money is now available for community programming,” said Seale, who also recently took over the probation department.

Seale's agency took the brunt of the board's money-moving arrangement, losing $750,000 intended for offender programming.