Frustrated over a possible “public safety nightmare,” Los Angeles County supervisors postponed a vote Tuesday on a parolee transfer plan dealing with the “massive early releases” of prisoners to county jails.
Supervisors bemoaned impending administrative and financial nightmares as parolees are released, causing Supervisor Michael Antonovich – Glendora’s representative in the 5th District – to call for a motion to delay a vote until next week so that administrative changes could be made to the plan.
The county is under pressure to come up with a solution to Assembly Bill 109, which beginning Oct.1, California counties will have to house thousands of convicted non-violent, non-serious crimes in county jails. County probation officers, rather than the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, would also become responsible for newly paroled prisoners.
District Attorney Steve Cooley echoed the outrage of county and local law enforcement officials since realignment was proposed in Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposals.
“No plan, no matter how well-intentioned, is going to solve the inherent problems of this terribly flawed piece of legislation,” Cooley told the supervisors. He criticized the lack of input from county and local law enforcement agencies – many of which are strongly opposed to the plan – during the drafting of the legislation.
Approximately 56 percent of parolees shifted to local governments are considered low-risk, guilty of drug or property offenses. These are the majority of the types of crimes committed in Glendora, according to Glendora Police.
"This realignment proposal will have a negative impact on the safety and security of our community," said Lt. Tim Staab of the Glendora Police Department during a June 14 city council meeting. "While the governor has made this a key part of his budget solution, the state has no plans or formula in place regarding how this program will be ultimately implemented and funded for the long term."
With 10 million residents, Los Angeles County is expected to absorb the biggest impact in the new realignment plan.
Los Angeles County will receive $112 million from the state to manage the parolees in the first year, which Chief Probation Officer Donald Blevins said would cover his department’s costs.
Still, he added that funds may not be enough to cover substance abuse and mental health programs. He said 30 percent of parolees have mental health and addiction issues.
Supervisors directed Sheriff Lee Baca to come up with detailed jail management plan in the coming weeks, but Baca said he was confident his department could handle the new legislation.
“We're expecting the same population that we have in our jails before they're sentenced,'' Baca said, adding that some of the inmates are incarcerated in their jails for more than a year. “So we know pretty well what we're dealing with when it comes to this kind of inmate.”
He also added that the state would also give county jails $50,000 per year for each transferred inmate, when his department spends $31,000 per prisoner annually. Still, there is extra manpower needed to carry out the plan.
The Sheriff's Department will need 160 sworn deputies to implement the plan.
Despite protests from Supervisor Gloria Molina who urged probation and sheriffs departments to act quickly before the Oct. 1 deadline, the board agreed to delay any decision on the plan until the following week.
-City News Service contributed to this report.