Thursday, July 5, 2012

(Los Angeles Co) Grand Jury report: Realignment will overwhelm probation officers and crowd jails

By Christina Villacorte, Staff Writer - DAILY NEWS

Realignment could diminish the supervision of probationers and cause overcrowding at county jails, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury.

Realignment transferred the responsibility of supervising specific low-level inmates and parolees from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to counties. It took effect Oct. 1.

In its final report, the 2011-12 Civil Grand Jury noted that during the first year of realignment, the Probation Department would have to care for an additional 7,000 to 8,000 new probationers. The grand jury worried it would spread deputy probation officers too thinly.

"The caseload for the current deputy probation officers has increased dramatically for each deputy probation officer to monitor and supervise adequately," the civil grand jury wrote.

It urged the county Board of Supervisors to hire additional deputy probation officers.

Realignment required criminals sentenced after Oct. 1 for non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenses (also called N3s) to serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons.

The civil grand jury said the pace of N3s being sent to the county appears to be much faster than had been anticipated.

"The number of N3s (sent to) L.A. County from October 2011 through mid-March 2012 is well above the projected numbers by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," the civil grand jury noted.

The department had expected between 7,000 and 8,000 N3s would be sent to the county during the first year of realignment. In just the first four months, however, the county has already admitted almost 5,000 of them.

"This number is approximately 950 N3s per month, or a projected 11,400 over a 12-month period," the civil grand jury said.

The civil grand jury consists of 23 members sworn in for a 12-month period, which ended last month. Its responsibilities include examining various aspects of county government, municipalities and special districts to evaluate their governance and fiscal health.

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