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There was a time – just two days ago actually – if a state prison parolee was picked up on suspicion of any non-violent crime such as check fraud, vehicle theft, identity theft, or residential burglary they’d automatically go back to the big house.
Starting Monday 800 of the 2,300 state prison parolees in San Joaquin County essentially get three more strikes thanks to the California Legislature’s move last year to reduce state costs. That means those sent to state prison for non-violent felonies will essentially be able to commit auto theft, check fraud, possess date rape drugs, and even sell some illegal drugs and get away with simply being cited and released.
The reason is the new law establishing non-revocable parole for certain convicted felons means they will be treated like first-time offenders for such non-violent crimes under the inmate cap rules for the overcrowded San Joaquin County Jail.
Making it all the more frustrating for law enforcement is that those 800 parolees will no longer have to tell anyone where they are living. In the past, when police have noticed an uptick of crime in a neighborhood they would check to see where convicted felons were living and make a surprise visit.
In many cases they’d find evidence of a crime having been committed, arrest the parolees, and then they’d be back on their way to prison for another one to three years due to parole violation.
The county, at the same time, will no longer be reimbursed for jail-related expenses when any of the 800 state paroles on non-revocable parole are arrested for crimes that in the past constituted a violation of their parole.
“Trust, me, there is a good chance property crimes will go up,” Manteca Police Dave Bricker said.
Non-revocable parole status also means stay away orders that victims may have in place cannot be enforced. Bricker stressed that doesn’t include victims of domestic violence since those convicted for violent felonies an still be sent straight back to prison on a parole violation when if it is technical in nature for failing to report to a parole officer.
“The state is doing it as a cost saving move and dumping it on to local law enforcement agencies that are already stretched thin,” Bricker said.
“Our officers will continue to do the job the best they can but this won’t help things.”
The only exception to the new non-revocable parole rule for convicted non-violent felons being released back in the community is if they are a documented prison gang member. However if they are simply a documented street gang member they will be cited and released if picked up for a crime while on parole instead of being sent automatically back to prison.
Bricker noted it typically takes five to seven felony convictions to send a career criminal to state prison anymore
The new non-revocable parole status is in addition to the state Monday releasing 25,000 felons in a move designed to save money.
At the same time, legislation is moving through the California Legislature to reduce a number of felonies to 366-day misdemeanors including but not limited to some drug sales, possession of date rape drugs, some drug sales, vehicle theft, check fraud, identity fraud, and other crimes.