Prison 'realignment' off to a rough start

Los Angeles County probation officials are getting a first look at the state prison inmates whose files started being transferred here this week. They don't like what they are seeing so far, according to a story at ZevWeb. Forget that stuff about these being the less dangerous state inmates.

Hundreds upon hundreds of prisoner files—some woefully incomplete—are haphazardly arriving by mail, fax and Fed-Ex at Los Angeles County’s “pre-screening” hub in the Probation Department’s Alhambra field office. Eagle-eyed probation workers are uncovering mistakes, large and small, in the state records, including inmates who should be sent to other counties and others whose crimes should disqualify them entirely from the new “realignment” program.

Only late last week, after intense pressure from L.A. County, did state corrections authorities even begin sending comprehensive mental health records on ex-convicts headed here for supervision, information that’s crucial in developing treatment plans for the clients and protection for the public.

What’s also become increasingly clear in recent days is that the state has not been entirely forthcoming about the fine print of the controversial realignment plan, which is aimed at reducing prison overcrowding while slashing the state’s budget deficit.
Again and again, the governor and legislature have publicly stressed that the ex-inmates who’ll be supervised by the counties are “low-level” offenders convicted of non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual crimes. They also note that these individuals would have returned to their home counties no matter who was responsible for their oversight. But that’s not the whole story, as L.A. County officials are quickly learning.

These same felons could—and sometimes do—have prior cases involving very serious crimes....

“We’re literally seeing every criminal record you could think of,” says Richard Giron of the Probation Department, who’s in charge of the pre-screening center in Alhambra, where nearly 2,000 files have been received. “We’re seeing prior violence, prior sex offenses—the full range of minimal criminal records to extensive, serious records.”

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