Many prison inmates will be released because of overcrowding

Posted on April 6, 2009. Filed under: California State Budget, Crime, Parole |

 By ROD JONES

In previous articles I wrote for the Herald News, I focused on preventing burglaries and stolen vehicles. The reason for my focus on these two areas is that it involves a series of issues regarding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) – more specifically, the crisis of the overcrowding of our state prison system.

Recently, the 9th Circuit Federal District Court decided a case involving the state prison system which has become known as “Prison Release Litigation.” In that case, it was determined that the state prison system was overpopulated by between 37,000 to 58,000 inmates. While they are still deciding how this issue will be resolved, many experts predict the state will have approximately two years to achieve an acceptable inmate population level.

Undeniably there will be a significant release of inmates from the prison system in the not too distant future. Those released from prison will be the prisoners who have committed property crimes and that are classified as non-violent and/or non-sexual offenders. These offenders are the ones who commit burglaries and car thefts, among other types of crimes. In the adoption of the recent state budget, CDCR’s budget was cut by $400 million, and this will lead them to a significant budget crisis.

Since CDCR is responsible for the parole system, it is now proposed that prisoners released from prison for property related crimes will be without monitoring terms or supervision by a parole officer. Search terms, one of the most common monitoring terms, allowing for unplanned/unannounced searches and drug testing of the offender, will be eliminated. With unsupervised parole and no monitoring terms, prisoners are simply being released back into our neighborhoods, free to repeat behaviors that sent them to prison in the first place.

This non-supervised release is strongly opposed by EVERY police chief, sheriff, and district attorney of San Bernardino County. While law enforcement leaders of the Inland Empire communities appreciate the position the state has been placed in due to the economy, collectively we remain committed to taking steps to ensure our citizen safety. We have loudly and clearly asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to place monitoring terms on inmates released from prison so that law enforcement officers across the Inland Empire may continue to use these enforcement tools to ensure recently released inmates are complying with the laws of our society.

The end result of all of this: There will be fewer people going to prison for property offenses and many inmates being released, unsupervised and free to walk our streets.

Be aware, take the time and necessary preventative steps to protect yourself, your family, and your property. Let’s come together as a community so that we will all be better equipped to address the many challenges before us.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I also encourage you to take advantage of the Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch and other crime prevention programs.

(Rod Jones is chief of the Fontana Police Department.)

Copyright © 2009 Fontana Herald News

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