Merced Sun-Star — As federal judges pressured California to relieve prison overcrowding in 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed lawmakers to send tens of thousands of parolees and lower-level offenders to counties.
The realignment plan enabled the state to reduce its prison population by 25,000 inmates and balance its cash-strapped budget. But it has disappointed advocates who had hopes that counties would reduce California’s notoriously high rate of inmates who commit crimes soon after hitting the streets.
Parolees monitored by counties under realignment have been arrested for new crimes at the same rate as when the state supervised similar offenders, The Sacramento Bee found in an analysis of state data. Some 60 percent of parolees released to counties from October 2011 through September 2012 were arrested for new offenses within 12 months of leaving prison, the same rate as a comparable population of parolees managed by the state the year before the law took effect.
County officials point to several factors that have compromised their ability to change the state’s cycle of crime.
Limited jail space for parole violators means that counties must release some inmates early. Probation officers have high caseloads, which prevent them from monitoring parolees as closely as they would like. continue reading...