Beginning Saturday, October 1, 2011, a massive overhaul of California's prison system will take effect. Not since California switched from an indeterminate sentencing structure to a determinate sentencing one in 1977 has California seen such sweeping changes. Essentially, "low level" criminal offenders will no longer be California's responsibility; counties will be responsible for "low level" criminal offenders.
Currently someone released from state prison is placed on parole. If they violate the terms of parole they are sent back to state prison. Under the new system, "low level" offenders who violate parole will no longer be sent back to state prison, but to county jails.
Also, newly convicted "low-level" offenders will no longer be sentenced to state prison, but to county jails.
A "low-level" offender is for crimes that are considered non-serious, non-violent, and non-sex-related or a "triple-non". A drug dealer no longer gets prison, they go to county jail.
Nobody really knows what affect this will have on already overburdened county jail facilities, but most believe it will mean early releases due to overcrowding.
The reason for this new plan or realignment has to do with a Federal Order to reduce California's prison population by 33,000. Simply put, California does not have the room for these offenders. The counties do not have room for them either and when the counties run out of room inmates and pre-trial detainees will get released early due to overcrowding.