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Convicts taken under realignment more serious offenders than expected

Posted: January 22, 2013 6:02 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:02 p.m.

Most criminals turned over to Los Angeles County by the state are classified high- or very-high-risk offenders, a far cry from projections made before the transfer occurred, a county official said Tuesday.

Jerry Powers, the county’s chief probation officer, told county supervisors Tuesday that about 10 percent of the inmates the county has taken in through the so-called “realignment” program have been designated very high risk.

The designation is reserved for offenders who are most likely to commit future crimes.

Based on information provided by the state before realignment occurred, county officials did not expect to see any convicts designated high risk, Powers said.

That was one of the projections the Probation Department used to determine necessary staffing, he said.

In addition to being the most likely to commit future crimes, these types of offenders also require the greatest resource commitment, Powers said.

“These ultra-high risk offenders are very resistant to supervision, and resistant to treatment or rehabilitation,” Powers said. “So we have to be very aggressive in how we go about dealing with that population.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the county is seeing a much lower proportion of low-risk offenders than expected.

While the county expected low-risk offenders to make up 25 percent of the total population of realignment offenders, in reality they make up less than 1 percent, Powers said.

Realignment became law in 2011 and permits the state to take prisoners whose offenses were deemed non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual in nature — so-called “non-non-nons” — and place them in county jails instead of state prisons.

Some were released on probation under the supervision of county probation departments.

The state provided funding for the transfer based on projected costs. The move was designed to relieve state prisons of overcrowding, for which the state had been sued.

Most county officials throughout California objected to realignment, saying the state funding would be insufficient and not guaranteed to last.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, one of the most outspoken critics of the state plan, said that as of Jan. 11, almost three-fourths of the 12,762 offenders sent to Los Angeles County as a result of realignment had gone on to commit another crime.

And while realignment offenders were supposed to be “non-non-nons,” Antonovich said, 333 of those transfers were registered sex offenders.

Because more offenders than expected are higher risks than expected, some are committing crimes that carry hefty jail terms, Antonovich said.

“Our county jails are meant to be a hotel, not a full-service penitentiary,” Antonovich said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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