California corrections officials are poised to drop the arrest warrants of thousands of parole violators, reported the Los Angeles Times. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation intends to begin a massive review next week of more than 9,200 outstanding warrants, starting with individuals who were convicted of nonviolent crimes and absconded from supervision.
The mass purge is an attempt to ease the burden on counties in July, when the state hands off responsibility for parole revocations to local courts, said agency spokesman Jeffrey Callison. Weeding out cases that are years old, or of parolees nobody is looking for, will make it easier to focus on those who pose a threat, he said.
It will not, Callison said, "allow some paroles to 'get off the hook.' "
"I have been told that discharging people is not the point of the exercise," he told the Times.
Which is exactly the claim of some victims' advocates who are infuriated by the state's so-called warrant review project.
When inmates are released from state prison, they are required to report to a parole officer. When a felon does not appear, or disappears later, an arrest warrant is issued. With low-level offenders now serving time in county jails, the state's parole population is shrinking dramatically because those released from jail go to county probation, not state parole.
But the same law that shifted responsibility for low-level offenders also requires county courts to take over most revocation hearings for parole violators. The warrant review will remove many of those potential cases.
According to the Times, the plan calls for parole agents to review about 7,000 warrants against low-level offenders to determine if those parolees have violent offenses or multiple felonies, belong to gangs or committed new crimes. Agents will then decide whether to drop the warrant and release the felon from parole.
Once that review is completed, the agency may undertake a similar study of outstanding warrants against missing parolees who committed serious or violent offenses, indicating that they too might be released from state supervision.
To read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-prisons-20121110,0,5572697.story