MARTINEZ -- The six-month stalemate among Contra Costa's top law enforcement, health and court leaders broke Friday as the fractured group passed portions of its budget for managing felons shifted from the state into county custody in October 2011.

The seven-member Community Correctional Partnership unanimously funded continued core inmate oversight responsibilities for the offices of the sheriff, district attorney, probation and public defender.

Brokered by Contra Costa Public Defender Robin Lipetzky, the panel also voted 6-1 to set aside $4.03 million for community-based inmate transition services including one-stop centers, job placement, housing and mentoring services. District Attorney Mark Peterson was the lone dissenter.

It is a huge victory for progressive activists and volunteers on the partnership's citizen advisory board whose mantra has been, "Invest in people, not prisons."

In addition, the partnership:

  • Reserved $2.7 million originally earmarked for a controversial 150-bed expansion at the West County Detention Center in Richmond. Sheriff David Livingston agreed to put the project on hold if the money was set aside and available in case incarceration alternatives don't work.

  • Earmarked $900,000 for a new pretrial program for low-level offenders.

  • Allocated $300,000 for an oversight office that will gather and analyze performance data and evaluate the effectiveness of county and community programs.

    "I think this is a good compromise," said partnership member and Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus. "No one will be 100 percent happy but this gets us moving toward addressing a lot of unmet needs."

    Magnus sided with progressives who argue that helping inmates stay out of prison is a more humane and cost-effective approach.

    On the other end, traditional law enforcement representatives say they need sufficient funding to manage the influx of felons into their jails and onto their probation rolls, or dangerous criminals could be released into the community.

    The logjam may have loosened Friday but the debate over the best way to spend realignment money appears far from over.

    Already six months into this fiscal year, the county had been running the program under an extension of last year's budget.

    The unanimous vote Friday on the $15.5 million for the 2012-13 core budget all but guarantees that the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will ratify it under the four-fifths vote required for budget acts taken outside the normal cycle.

    The community-based transition services piece faces a steeper climb.

    County supervisors have said publicly and privately that they want the partnership to settle its differences before they consider a spending blueprint. The board vote is scheduled for Jan. 15.

    But Peterson, the sole vote against the progressives' share of the budget, vehemently argued the allocation could leave other critical work unfunded.

    Petersen is still looking for money to help cover his costs related to the oversight of the felons formerly under the state's care, and so are the Superior Court and county health department. City police agencies asked for the first time Friday for money, too.

    "I'm not opposed to transition services," Peterson said. "But this money was intended to compensate agencies for their new responsibilities. What happens to all of these unfunded proposals?"

    There will be more money, Lipetzky and other partnership members assured Peterson on Friday.

    The partnership has $1.8 million in the bank from its first partial budget in 2010-11. It will collect $19 million from the state for 2012-13.

    But the six-month delay in the passage of a full budget means it won't spend all of the funds. Many of the items are one-time expenses, which will free up dollars for ongoing programs.

    Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com, politicswithlisav.blogspot.com or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.