Susan Mauriello has been appointed to the California Board of State and Community Corrections, where she is in charge of overseeing a dramatic overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system. Previously a member of the Corrections Standards Authority board, Mauriello has been the county administrative officer for Santa Cruz County, Calif., since 1989. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Santa Clara University Law School.
The move is a reappointment for Mauriello, as she was on a prior board known as the Corrections Standards Authority, which dissolved June 30, 2012. The Board of State and Community Corrections replaced that body, and is more closely focused on the challenges accompanying prison realignment.
Santa Cruz County has been aggressive in adapting to realignment changes, enacted last year under Assembly Bill 109. In response, the county’s Probation Department and Sheriff’s Office, which oversees local jails, have adopted significant changes to handle the influx of prisoners. The bill is also forcing changes in how the county handles the pre-trial release of those accused of crimes, and is expected to lead to more inmates released into the community under tight monitoring.
Santa Cruz County has been recognized as a leader in adapting to the bill, with some counties using it as a model. Mauriello said she wants to bring those experiences to the state board.
"We’re small enough where we can make change a little more quickly," Mauriello said.
For years, the state prison system has been under fire from critics — several of whom are federal court judges — due to overcrowding and other poor conditions. The criticism culminated in 2011 with the U.S. Supreme Court last year ordering the removal of tens of thousands of inmates.
Since AB 109 was implemented, state prisons have seen a population reduction of 28,300, according a study last month by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, which is already two-thirds of the way toward a state goal of reducing the population 40,000 by 2017.
The bill also resulted in a 41 percent reduction in state prison admissions. Leading the way among large counties in California is Santa Clara, which has seen the number of prisoners being shipped off to state prisons drop 57 percent since realignment went into effect in October.
But that trend has not shown up in Santa Cruz County, with felony prison admissions jumping to 36, in the first three months after realignment went into effect, compared to 22, during the prior three months. The numbers have since leveled off.