Decoding ‘prison realignment’

Posted on December 5, 2011. Filed under: California State Budget, Crime, Parole, Politics, Prisons, Public Safety Realignment |

By LAPolice Protective League Board of Directors on 11/21/2011 @ 04:22 PM

Surprise, surprise. Some of the so-called “low-risk, nonviolent” inmates being sent to county jails are turning out to be far more dangerous than touted by advocates of prison realignment.

What went wrong? For starters, only the inmate’s most recent crime is being taken into consideration when determining eligibility for transfer. His or her latest crime may not be of a violent nature, but often, previous convictions have been for very serious crimes that suggest a potential for future dangerous behavior.

Because of jail overcrowding, an inmate’s path from arrival at the L.A. County Jail to release on unsupervised parole can be a short one.

L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich called attention to one prisoner set for transfer to L.A. County who previously served time at the maximum-security Folsom and Atascadero state prisons. In reviewing his rap sheet, county officials were shocked to find that he was a violent sexual predator convicted of rape with violence.

Antonovich says the gaping loophole in the realignment legislation puts the community in danger. It could also cost the county plenty because if an inmate attacks an employee or another inmate, “we assume 100 percent liability.”

Antonovich fired off a letter to Gov. Brown calling for the loophole to be closed. The Board of Supervisors has authorized counsel to review possible legal actions to stop transfers of inmates with previous convictions for violent crimes.

This is a problem we’ve been warning the public and elected officials about for some time now. California’s hastily crafted prison realignment legislation was a bad budget cutting solution that transferred the state’s inmate problem to local governments.

We commend Supervisor Antonovich’s leadership in pushing back on Sacramento for playing politics with public safety.


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