WESTLAKE DISTRICT (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles police are helping oversee paroled prisoners who have been released under the state’s controversial prison realignment program.
About 4,000 prisoners have been released from state prisons without the supervision and strict rules of the state’s parole department. These prisoners were put under the supervision of the Los Angeles County Probation Department and when the county office was overwhelmed, the Los Angeles Police Department moved an estimated 150 officers to head the compliance units that visit paroled prisoners.
KCAL9′s political reporter Dave Bryan joined the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division on Monday as a compliance unit conducted checks on five of the 250 paroled felons in their district.
A team of two L.A. County Probation Department representatives and nine LAPD officers conducted the spontaneous checks, searching for drugs, guns and contraband.
Compliance checks are being carried out in every police district in Los Angeles as part of the state’s 2-year-old prison realignment program, or AB 109, designed to relieve prison overcrowding by releasing some prisoners and transferring others to local jails.
Inmates are not let out early under AB 109, but when they are released they are no longer supervised by the state’s parole department. Instead, parolees are accountable to a patchwork of county probation departments and local law enforcement.
“I think the continual compliance checks does send a message to the AB 109 PSPs [persons released] that we do see that we will be coming out on a regular basis checking on them, and that, in a sense, will deter them from the habits, the criminal habits that they have,” one member of the compliance unit said.
But some community activists believe the number of prisoners being released on probation is taking its toll.
“In general terms, violent crime in LA, as we’re told and I believe, is down,” Police Community Representative Jean Sinatra said. “However, property crime is skyrocketing all over Los Angeles, and I believe it’s because there is a never-ending supply, an increasing number of people committing theses crimes.”
Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore said statistics don’t support the claim that crime is increasing, but said he worries about the 11,000 prisoners who have been released from the L.A. County jails and who have no supervision and no services to help them integrate back into society.
“We support moving services and moving supervision to the local level, but we worry that the capacity is not here right now, that the framework in which to do that is being made on the fly,” Moore said
“An officer stopped that individual three years ago, they would have the ability and the authority to search him, to see whether or not they’re involved in any type of criminal activity,” he said. “Today, that individual comes out of county jail and has no services, has no supervision, no accountability and can be stopped by an officer at three in the morning and the officer will have little information about who the person is.”