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27
Sep 2011
County preps for parolee transfer

Gov. Jerry Brown met privately Monday with Los Angeles County supervisors in an effort to ease their concerns about the thousands of state prisoners and parolees poised to flood local jails beginning Saturday.

Under Brown's so-called realignment program, the county Probation Department will take over the supervision of some 9,000 parolees - those whose last conviction was for a nonviolent, nonserious or nonsexual offense. Beginning next week, felons convicted of those types of crimes will be incarcerated in county jail rather than state prison.

County officials, however, have expressed serious misgivings about the sudden influx of parolees - concerns the governor hoped to address.

"This process works, and to the extent that we see bumps in the road, we smooth them out," Brown said before going into the closed-door session with the board.

After the meeting, however, several supervisors seemed less than satisfied about the outcome of the discussion.

Supervisor Don Knabe said the governor was unable to guarantee the state would provide funding for the Probation and Sheriff's department's beyond the current fiscal year.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich also "remains very, very concerned," according to his spokesman, Tony Bell.

"This could have catastrophic fiscal impact on the county taxpayers and on public safety in Los Angeles County," Bell said. "We're a few days out from receiving our first onslaught of prisoners from the state and there's still no guarantee of funding.

"Even in the first year, there's not enough money to cover the county's cost - not even close," Bell said.

Brown had sought a constitutional amendment to guarantee continued funding for the realignment plan, but the state Legislature approved money only for the current fiscal year.

Los Angeles County will receive about $112 million to take over supervision of the parolees for the fiscal year that ends next June 30.

Law-enforcement is also concerned with the provision of the program that requires felons to serve their time in county jails. With Men's Central Jail, Twin Towers, and the Pitchess Detention facilities under a consent decree designed to reduce overcrowding, many inmates already are being released after serving only a fraction of their sentences.

District Attorney Steve Cooley has said Brown's plan will create a "public safety nightmare" as the overtaxed jail system is forced to handle thousands of additional felons.

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