Monday, December 24, 2012

California releases felons without supervision, treatment

Realignment, also known as AB 109, is the governor Jerry Brown's way of complying with the U.S. Supreme Court mandate to reduce overcrowding in California prisons, reported the Los Angeles Daily News.

The first wave of felons sent to county jails instead of state prisons under realignment plan are back on the streets after serving their sentences, and almost all are under no obligation to report to a parole agent or probation officer, and many did not get job training and other rehabilitation services while behind bars.

"Of those 9,000 who have been sentenced to jail in lieu of prison, about 90 percent of them are going to come out without supervision by a probation officer or a parole agent," county Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers said during a recent meeting of the Southern California Association of Governments, as reported by the Daily News.

"They're simply going to walk out of jail a free person, and we will have no ability to compel them to engage in drug treatment, mental health treatment or anything of that sort," he added. "As soon as they hit that public sidewalk, they are truly free."

Among the strategies for lowering the inmate population is to send most felons sentenced with non-serious, non-violent and non-sex crimes to county jails instead.

If the felons had stayed in state prisons, they would have been required by state law to report to parole agents for one or more years after their release. They would also have been ordered to stay away from their victims, and been subject to warrantless searches. Some might also have been compelled to undergo services to ease their re-entry into society.

Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michel Moore told the Daily News realignment provided no such "safety net" for felons diverted to county jails.

"It's a pretty big omission in the statute," Deputy District Attorney Kraig St. Pierre, in charge of the county DA's Parole Revocation Section, told the Daily News.

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