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County: High Risk Offenders Released From Prison Without Supervision

'High risk' offenders are being released from prison at an alarming rate under realignment, says a Los Angeles County official.

Los Angles County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers said today he is seeing more high-risk parolees from state prisons than expected, but what really has him worried is offenders coming out of county jails who aren't subject to supervision.

"Risks have certainly skewed towards the top and that drives much of the costs of this program, from treatment to supervision to incarceration,'' Powers told the Board of Supervisors.

Of the 9,750 parolees moved to local from state supervision over the past year  - under a realignment plan to cut state spending -- about 59 percent are at high risk of committing another crime and only 1 percent are low risk, Powers said.

About 12 percent are homeless or transient, with no permanent address, Powers said. And roughly another 12 percent have had their parole revoked in the last year because of new offenses or lack of compliance.

But for all the difficulty of managing a new parolee population, Powers said he was more concerned about offenders coming out of county jails who are not subject to the same parole conditions as those released from state prisons.

"They don't have a supervision tail like the ones who are coming out of state prison,'' Powers said. "Ninety-plus percent of them are being given a straight custodial sentence and are walking out the door without any obligation to any of us.''

Without any provision for a probationary period, ex-offenders are not subject to search or obliged to seek treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues, he pointed out.

"That scares me more than this population that is coming from the state prison system,'' Powers said.

Powers did say he thought the county could cut recidivism rates, though the final numbers aren't in.

"We anticipate that we're going to see somewhere around a 30 percent return to custody rate'' as compared to the state probation's 46 percent rate, Powers said.

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