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Prison releases send Manteca’s crime rate upward

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POSTED October 4, 2012 1:27 a.m.

Call it the “trickle down” theory of budget cuts.

Federal courts order California to cut its prison population by 33,000 by June of 2013.

The state, in turn, releases low-level offenders but kicks the ones with just a bit more criminal activity down to county jails.

County jails - under court-mandates as well such as in San Joaquin County - kick out other inmates early or simply don’t keep criminal suspects for more than a few hours after they are arrested

The end result is more crime in neighborhoods.

The Manteca City Council was told Tuesday by Police Chief Nick Obligacion that part of an increase in certain crimes - vehicle theft, robbery, and aggravated assault - can be traced directly to the prison release plan.

Based on crime statistics through the first six months of this year in Manteca:

• robberies are up 60 percent going from 25 in the first six months of 2011 to 40 in the same period this year.

• vehicle thefts are up 41.6 percent going from 125 in 2011 to 177 this year.

• aggravated assaults are up 37.5 percent going from 40 to 55.

Obligacion noted the trend in Manteca is reflected in jurisdictions throughout San Joaquin County.

It is against that backdrop that the City Council directed a letter be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown seeking repeal of the Criminal Justice Realignment plan.

Council members termed the move a “long shot” at best but felt state leaders needed to know the impacts of their solution to prison overcrowding.

Obligacion noted the police chiefs throughout the county have formed an Assembly Bill 109 Task Force in reference to the legislation that put the prison release plan in motion. The task force is designed to pool resources to keep tabs on those released under the program who they expect to be the root of much of the jump in crime problems. Typically 90 percent of the crimes are committed by 10 percent of the criminals that police departments come in contact with.

The country task force will receive $500,000 to hire additional officers to help keep on top of the additional criminal element being released back on the street. Although the governor has indicated he wants funding on an annual basis to help fund law enforcement agencies being put under duress by the early release, there is no guarantee the state funding will be in place from year to year.

“I’m one of the people who are every frustrated,” Manteca resident Bruce Lownsbery told the council. “It does seem they (the state) have very much jeopardized our safety.”

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