California Prison Parolees in L.A. Might End up Under Sheriff's Supervision Because County Probation Department is so Troubled

Sheriff Lee Baca, left, with county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Sheriff Lee Baca, left, with county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

How bad is the L.A. County Probation Department?

So bad that the county's leaders are actually looking at giving state parolee supervision duties, which would normally be taken over by local probation officials, to the department of L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca.

This after the state legislature passed a law passing the parolee supervision to localities in order to save California some cash.

On Tuesday ...

... the L.A. County Board of Supervisors will discuss whether to give the parolee-supervision duties to the Sheriff's Department or Probation when the transfer of duties takes place Oct. 1.

Today Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued this statement:

The dysfunction at Probation is so severe that I believe a majority of the Board of Supervisors would do the unusual by turning over parolees to the Sheriff's Department. This speaks volumes. A police officer's job is to identify, investigate and arrest suspected criminals. A parole officer, by contrast, must prepare a person's transition to society after incarceration. Some would argue combining the roles creates an obvious confusion of missions, if not an outright conflict of interest. A parolee's trust and confidence in a parole officer is essential. Is it realistic to think a parolee will confide in a Sheriff's deputy who has the authority to arrest him?

Yeah, it's that bad:

Only under the most strained of circumstances would I accept giving a police agency control over parolees. Sadly, the current crisis in the Los Angeles County Probation Dept. is such a circumstance.

The department has been rocked in recent years by allegations that officers used county credit cards to buy personal items like flat screen TVs, and that some who worked with juveniles were disciplined for "inappropriate contact."

And so Ridley-Thomas is proposing that the 13,000 or so parolees who would come under the responsibility of the county be handed over to the Sheriff's Department for supervision for a year to a year-and-a-half before a hopefully reformed Probation Department would then take over.

And where is the Probation Department's chief officer when it's time to lobby for his people? Donald Blevins was at the Chief Probation Officers of California's quarterly meeting in San Diego this week.


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