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State releases felons then pays cities to help re-arrest them

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POSTED December 7, 2012 1:34 a.m.

Felons released early from state prison are responsible for an uptick in crime in Manteca and elsewhere in San Joaquin County.

Now the state is giving local police agencies money to help offset the cost of arresting previous offenders who are again committing crimes since being released to send them back to jail.

Manteca is receiving $86,250 to cover the cost of an entry level of officer for nine months in the cat and mouse game triggered by a federal mandate requiring the state to reduce state prison inmate numbers by 40,000.

Manteca Councilman John Harris, a retired probation officer said the “state graciously gives us one officer” when they “should have given us 20 with the program they shoved down our throat.”

The city was able to obtain the money only because they helped form the Community Corrections Partnership task force for San Joaquin County. In doing so, participating jurisdictions in the county made themselves eligible to receive part of the funding the state offered as an olive branch of sorts and a tactical admission that crime is expected to go up with the release of felons ahead of schedule.

The funding through Assembly Bill 109 will establish a Problem Orientated Police (POP) model to focus on re-offenders who are wanted for a new crime or compliance violation, have a history of violence, are a repeat offender, or are at a high risk of becoming a repeat offender.

Police Chief Nick Obligacion noted that Manteca’s participation in the POP will allow the city to leverage valuable patrol time with that of multi-jurisdictional resources. The end result will be slightly more police staffing for the city.

AB 109 reduced the state prison population by shifting responsibility of certain felons to local government.

“Although programming is provided to help reduce recidivism, Manteca and other cities within San Joaquin County have experienced an increase in crime committed by previous offenders,” Obligacion noted in a report to the council.

Gov. Jerry Brown said he was going to craft a funding program that would offset such increased costs to local law enforcement from the state prison release plan.

The end result hasn’t been what some expected.

Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, and Senator Michael J. Rubio, D-Shafter, along with 11 legislative colleagues, sent a letter Thursday to Brown requesting that “realignment funds target counties with higher per capita populations of AB 109 offenders.”

Brown and state corrections leaders have said they are committed to ensuring that AB 109, the prison realignment law, is implemented in tandem with adequate levels of funding to cover the costs of this major change in California’s criminal justice system. The legislators noted since realignment began in October 2011, rural counties, particularly those in the Central Valley, have witnessed a clear spike in the numbers of “non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual” offenders that have been diverted to local authorities to minimize overcrowding at California state prisons.

 “In order for prison realignment to succeed, we must provide our local law enforcement with the resources they need to properly deal with the criminals that fall under the guidelines of the program,” said Senator Cannella. “With the current funding formulas, some counties are overburdened by realignment. As a result, criminals are being sent back on the streets prematurely and are reoffending. We need to alter the way that these funds are distributed so counties can protect their communities.”

 The bipartisan letter urged the Governor to reevaluate the current funding between counties since “if the current allocation formula continues, counties with higher numbers of AB 109 offenders will have great difficulty maintaining public safety and creating evidence-based supervision and treatment programs.” The letter also noted that counties with higher per capita populations of AB 109 offenders tend to experience higher than average crime rates and significant unemployment.

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