LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The shift of thousands of state prisoners to Los Angeles County custody will increase crime and reduce overall public safety unless the state gives Los Angeles and other cities money to respond, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and law-enforcement officials said today.
Starting this morning, people convicted of non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offender crimes will be sent to county jails instead of state prisons.
Supervision over thousands of prisoners released on parole or probation will also become the responsibility of county probation officers rather than the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
An estimated 9,000 parolees are expected to be added to Los Angeles County. City officials estimate more than 45 percent of them will live in the city of Los Angeles.
“Sacramento is transferring more than 4,200 offenders to L.A. and not a single dollar to help with the burden,” Villaraigosa said. “That is not alignment. That is political malpractice.”
The state is giving the county around $112 million to manage the parolees for the first year, according to Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor Mike Antonovich. Cities, which don’t have authority over parolees, were not given any funding.
Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck criticized state lawmakers and the governor, calling the so-called realignment plan dangerous and poorly planned.
They called on the state to give Los Angeles $15 million or more to hire 150 additional officers they say will be necessary to respond to the shift.
Without the money, Beck said, he would be forced to pull officers off of patrol duty. “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,” Beck said.
Villaraigosa said the shift threatened nine years of crime reduction in the city. “Los Angeles has the lowest crime rate in a generation, the lowestnumber of homicides since 1967,” Villaraigosa said during a morning news conference. “All of this could change starting today.”
The mayor said he expressed his concern during two conversations with Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend. Brown said the money is not available, but that he hopes to put an initiative on the 2012 ballot to raise revenue for the prisoner shift through taxes or some other means.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered California to reduce its prison population without delay.
Realignment, I think, is the most viable way to comply with the court’s order,” Brown said during a news conference last week.
“I am pledging maximum state support to local officials: full funding, flexibility to use local solutions and a future ballot measure guaranteeing continuous funding.”
By Richie Duchon | City News Service