California AB-597: Probation and mandatory supervision: Flash incarceration
Senate Floor Analyses
Arguments in Support: The Marin County Public Defender’s Office writes:
In Marin County, flash incarceration is an evidence-based approach whose results have worked to create a quick, fair, and accountable system that is respected by our clients and which results in shorter disruptions from work, home, or programming for our clients. Further, intermediate sanctions like flash promote court and criminal justice system efficiencies by avoiding unduly delayed violation hearings and instead allow clients and probation officers to solidify an accountability bond that results in better outcomes for our clients. …
To date, not a single client has declined to take advantage of this voluntary condition. This speaks to the fairness in which it is administered in our county and the confidence our office has with how flash incarcerations are administered. …
…We believe in a holistic defense philosophy and having a fair flash incarceration process available to our clients is a valuable tool in ultimately returning them to a life of freedom.
Arguments in Opposition: According to the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ):
…AB 597 extends a recently enacted statute allowing probation officers to impose “flash incarceration” of individuals who are believed to be in violation of their terms of probation.
On the surface, this bill appears somewhat innocuous, especially since it merely extends a sunset. However, even a short-term incarceration can have devastating effects on individuals. …Unfortunately, the proposed extension may not be the most effective strategy to respond to potential probation violations.
While this flash incarceration is discretionary, CACJ believes there needs to be a greater threshold before such authority is exercised. Additionally, CACJ seeks further clarification that refusal to agree to flash incarceration should not be used to extend the length of the probationary term. Current law already prohibits the denial of probation if someone refuses to agree to a “flash” provision.
Assembly Public Safety
Flash incarceration as a sanction for offenders under state supervision who violate a term of their parole became effective July 1, 2013. Despite the authority to impose flash incarceration upon state supervisees, CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) made a policy decision not to utilize flash incarceration. (See Valdivia v. Brown, Response to May 6 Order, filed 05/28/13, p. 17.) DAPO appears to have changed that policy as of September, 2018. (CDCR, Notice of Change to Regulations, September 28, 2018, available at: cdcr.ca.gov/Regulations/Adult_Operations/docs/NCDR/2018NCR/18-08/18-08.pdf, [as of March 13, 2019].) According to CDCR, they are in the process of evaluating whether and how often they will be using the sanction going forward.