In a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the ACLU of Southern California and Public Counsel strongly urge the board to vote in favor of the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s Strategic Plan for the implementation of AB 109, also known as the Public Safety Realignment bill. Under this bill Los Angeles County is slated to receive a higher percentage of parolees than any other county in California.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has mandated that the state prison population be reduced, sending thousands of prisoners to local jurisdictions. The Supervisors must decide if these released prisoners will fall under the purview of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, already saddled with overcrowding and poor conditions or the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
The choice is clear cut. The Probation Department follows a community supervision model and will result in lower caseloads than the Sheriff’s Department Proposal. Sheriff’s deputies’ primary duties include patrol and custody, but not parole supervision. Their plan comprised calls for law enforcement agents to assume the task of coordinating services and supervision for parolees.
“As research demonstrates, it would be entirely inappropriate for the law enforcement agents to assume the role that the Sheriff’s Plan proposes,” the letter states. “Potential harms to supervised individuals under this plan could include increased recidivism, relapse and mental deterioration. The harm would be felt not only by the probationers, but also the taxpayer in the form of enormous costs of incarcerating violated probationers in County jails.”
“The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has no experience in monitoring parolees,” said Clarissa Woo, director of policy advocacy for the ACLU/SC. “Sheriff’s deputies are trained to run jails and to provide law enforcement. They’ve had no training in the issues faced by returning parolees. If the Sheriff’s Department is handed that responsibility, Los Angeles County would be the first in the United States to assign the job of supervising probationers or parolees to a sheriff or police department.”
The Board of Supervisors must decide and submit the County’s plan by August 1.