The first month of Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment plan has been problematic in Los Angeles County, where understaffing forced probation officers to double their caseloads and sheriff's deputies were not given authority to arrest no-show parolees until just a few days ago.
The county also had to scramble for information about incoming parolees because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was slow releasing inmate details.
However, realignment has not yet caused county jails to run out of room.
Under Brown's plan, the state planned to save state funds by requiring the county to supervise parolees released after Oct. 1.
About 750 inmates paroled from state prison Oct. 1 after serving time for nonviolent and nonsex offenses have reported to Probation and begun undergoing rehabilitation programs.
Sixty-five inmates were no-shows and did not report to their probation officers.
Though Probation has been seeking warrants for weeks, the courts did not issue any until Thursday, partly because of a flaw in the realignment legislation.
AB 109 initially failed to give Probation authority to revoke parole and issue warrants for no-shows; nor did it give the Sheriff's Department authority to detain absconders identified by Probation. The legislation was not corrected until mid-October.
Sheriff's Lt. Kevin McWaid said 16 warrants have been issued so far, and the rest would be coming soon. He added deputies are looking for the no-shows.
"Everyone is working together to make this as smooth as possible, but this is a whole new process," McWaid said. "No one in the entire state is doing this as efficiently as L.A. County is."
Another cause for concern was understaffing in Probation.
The department wanted to hire 83 deputy probation officers before Oct.1 to handle the parolees, but the Board of Supervisors waited until the last minute to authorize hiring and only approved 55 of the positions, none of which is likely to have an officer who has completed training until next year.
Some probation officers have had to double their caseloads while the new recruits are trained, said Probation Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham.
"We have made the appropriate adjustments to provide coverage for the individuals that are being released until we get all the staff that we have requested and get them trained," he said.
Mark Delgado, executive director of the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, said another problem is communication.
"There's a big challenge still in getting timely information from the state on individuals that are going to be released," he said.
Realignment also called for non-violent and non-sex offender inmates sentenced after Oct. 1 to be detained in county jails instead of state prisons.
To date, county jails have taken in 1,000 inmates under realignment, according to the CCJCC. Their average sentence was 742 days, while their average number of days left to serve was 244.
According to a report by the CCJCC, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors today, "The Sheriff's Department reports that a population surge has not yet resulted with the new sentences and that no (nonviolent, nonserious, nonsex offenses) sentenced inmates have been early released."