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State prison realignment program impacts local crime

Program is a 'get out of jail' card, police chief tells council.

April 12, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

The Glendale Police Department has redirected $650,000 to deal with parolees and individuals on probation since the state-mandated release of some prison inmates began two years ago, officials said this week.

The department’s Special Enforcement Detail has been fully dedicated to monitoring former inmates and identifying related crime trends. That’s a far cry from the detail’s original duties of preventive patrolling, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

At Tuesday’s Glendale City Council meeting, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa attributed the move to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s release of low-risk offenders without parole supervision and the state’s realignment of its prison system.

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Los Angeles County’s population, he said, will increase by about 24,000 inmates due to the realignment program.

“It’s essentially kind of a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” De Pompa said.

The state’s prison realignment order, he said, has forced counties to take responsibility for thousands of non-violent, non-sex-offender inmates on a local level.

While Los Angeles County’s probation and sheriff’s departments have received some funding to help them deal with their new jail population, De Pompa said local law enforcement agencies won’t.

Glendale’s residential parolee population remains stable at about 300 despite the state’s realignment efforts, he said.

“We do a relatively good job of managing those that reside within our boundaries,” he said, adding that officers actively maintain contact with parolees.

Still, while property crimes were down last year, De Pompa said those offenses now are increasing as criminals have become more aware that “the state prison accountability for committing these crimes is gone.”

Under realignment, De Pompa said, parolees who violate their paroles will likely serve time in county jails for non-serious offenses, or will be managed locally as part of a community supervision model.

“What it really means is commuting sentences and putting criminals back on the streets,” he said.

That was the case in La Crescenta, where police arrested two burglars who broke into a home about a month ago, De Pompa said. They were sentenced for felony burglary charges, but served just two weeks in county jail, he added. A conviction for first-degree burglary typically carries a two- to four-year sentence.

“This is the nature of the beast that we are now forced to deal with,” De Pompa said.

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