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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

L.A. County Probation Department beefs up staff to handle release of state inmates

LA Daily NewsLos Angeles County probation officials said Tuesday plans to ramp up department operations in light of the influx of prisoners reassigned from state parole to the agency’s jurisdiction are moving in the right direction.

Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers told the Board of Supervisors that despite hiring challenges and added training required, the department was moving forward with plans to increase staffing in a division designed specifically for AB 109 probationers — low-level inmates released to county probation rather than state parole as a result of an order to decrease prison overcrowding.

These probationers are typically nonviolent offenders convicted of such crimes as burglary, forgery or minor drug offenses, although they could have previously been convicted of more serious crimes.

Powers said he is now focusing on getting new hires out into the field, and working with mental health programs and other community outreach organizations to lower recidivism rates.

“We’ve established a strategy to get (probationers) back into compliance,” he said. “We’ve got to get (officers) out in the community.”

He also directly challenged the assertion of union leaders that the policy of sending deputies out to do compliance checks — visits designed to inspect a probationer’s living situation both for violations and coaching efforts — is a dangerous policy. continue reading...

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