We have been covering the back and forth between Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig and Judges Kathleen White and Dave Rosenberg. Most recently we recounted the story on Saturday.
Supervisor Matt Rexroad becomes the latest to weigh in with less than a full accounting of what occurred. He argues that “a phone call could have fixed this.” Maybe it could have, maybe not.
Supervisor Rexroad writes: “The DA warned the board that Prop. 47 offenders were essentially not getting jail time or treatment, but rather, he said, “the standard disposition of the court if someone is arrested on drug charges is they’re not given jail time at all. They’re simply referred out to probation.””
However, Mr. Rexroad fails to mention that the DA fired the first shot here, essentially blaming the judges for this situation. Mr. Reisig told the board, “The challenge, frankly, is the courts and getting judges to adopt that type of approach.”
He then mentioned the current disposition.
The judges wrote that Mr. Reisig’s statements were “not accurate.”
Mr. Rexroad continues, noting “that under new sentencing guidelines developed by Yolo judges in response to Prop 47, eligible offenders are given a choice of, ‘jail, or mandatory probation-supervised treatment.’ According to the judges, the majority of offenders choose probation rather than jail time.”
However, he continues, “But what White and Rosenberg did not mention in their letter were the DA’s statements that defendants were not receiving probation services because funding for treatment was not immediately provided under the law. Chief probation Officer Brent Cardall, in a department brief to the Board of Supervisors this past week, confirmed that the DA was ‘100 percent correct,’ reporting that ‘there is definitely a gap in our resources’ and ‘… cases have not been referred to treatment’ at the time Reisig reported to supervisors on March 10.”
He adds, “The DA’s warning and concern to the supervisors that Prop 47 drug offenders were not actually getting jail time or treatment was true and accurate. It is also true that the judges are primarily responsible for sentencing these offenders, setting terms of probation and holding them accountable. The probation department is merely an agent of the court. If Prop 47 offenders are not being treated or held accountable, it is the failure of the judges not to know what is going on under their watch. The District Attorney rightly exposed, at the time of his report, the court’s sentencing and system failure.”
Mr. Rexroad continues, saying that “when Chief Cardall reported to the Board of Supervisors that the DA was ‘100 percent correct’ in exposing the gap in treatment services, and this fact was subsequently reported in The Enterprise, we hear nothing from White and Rosenberg.”
Matt Rexroad, of course, tells only half of the story in his response. Mr. Cardall, in fact, said that both sides “are 100 percent correct.”
The judges, in fact, Mr. Cardall stated, are “100 percent correct, too, because when we first set this up, I gave them a commitment that we would treat all offenders. That did not exactly happen.”
Mr. Cardall indicated that drug offenders who were being referred out to probation were not receiving drug treatment. On the other hand, he said that he had ensured to the judges that those offenders would receive treatment “and that did not happen.”
So Mr. Rexroad made two errors of omission. First, he failed to note that Mr. Reisig blamed the situation on the judges when, in fact, Brent Cardall gave them every assurance that their concerns would be addressed.
Second, he only noted that Mr. Reisig was 100 percent in his claims that offenders under Prop. 47 were not receiving services.
Would it have been better for the judges to have communicated with Mr. Cardall to verify that what they thought was their arrangement was in fact the case? Absolutely. However, it would have also been better had Mr. Reisig not immediately blamed the judges for failing “to adopt that type of approach.”
However, the biggest concern from the Vanguard’s perspective is that Mr. Rexroad apparently has little interest in actually solving the problem.
He is quick to nail the blame, arguing, “Yolo County needs judges who are thorough and thoughtful, and who keep their eye on the very system they control. If they are going to pick and choose when they want to get involved in public policy, then they have to be prepared to be called out when wrong.”
And yet he offers little in the way of solutions. The Vanguard has put forward the idea of expanding the neighborhood court program, as well as continuing to utilize the Yolo County Day Reporting Center to provide the necessary services.
Mr. Rexroad has shown no interest in engaging in that conversation, or putting forward any alternatives until state funding for more services kicks in in nine months.
In the end, it is a bit disappointing that Matt Rexroad, rather than trying to fix the problem, is trying to fix the blame.
—David M. Greenwald reporting