State prisoners 'realigned' to county jails


To save money and relieve prison overcrowding the state has started releasing the first of 30,000 inmates. Thousands will come to Los Angeles and some will go to county jails.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca say it could reverse years of dropping crime rates. Villaraigosa and Beck say the city will need 150 additional police officers.

"Those 150 officers are going to come right out of the streets of Los Angeles. That's the equivalent of half of one of our patrol divisions. So 911 calls will take longer to answer. Reports will take longer to write and our system will suffer because of an unfunded mandate placed on us by the state," said Beck.

All agree the state is in bad financial shape. So are the cities. Los Angeles has had to reduce its workforce by nearly a third. There are some 16,000 inmates in Los Angeles County jails. There isn't enough space to hold the 4,200 coming to the county.

"Right now we have 3,500 vacant beds," said Baca. "We believe that it will be probably a question that should be answered in about a year and a half or two years from now. It's a little early to say."

Baca says he is concerned about early parole. In Los Angeles County, more than 40 percent of parolees end up as repeat offenders.

Governor Jerry Brown is calling the early-release program "realignment," putting thousands of supposedly low-level offenders back on the streets much earlier than they would be under the old rules.

"This is not alignment, this is a recipe for making the problem much worse," said Villaraigosa.

Truth is nobody knows at this point what the real impact of early probation/early release is going to be. But based on their experience, police chiefs believe it will mean an increase in crime for their cities.

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