Cops, City Concerned Over Prisoner Release (Plus, We Got It Wrong)

Police and city leaders expressed fear and loathing over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's two-year plan to release 21,000 prisoners, a move designed to relieve overcrowding at state lockups and provide some budget relief.

(We got it wrong: We have been reporting that the release was a piece of a federally ordered release of 40,000 prisoners, which is on hold because of a court challenge. Although the governor's plan mirrors the federal order and its goals, and we're sure he wishes his release would end the federal order, the two plans are not the same. Commenters were right. We're stupid. We regret the errors).

Los Angeles police gang and narcotics Capt. Justin Eisenberg told the city's Public Safety Committee on Monday that he thinks 6,000 of the convicts could end up in the county, with many going to Skid Row. Guillermo Cespedes, the city's "gang czar," called the release "a bit of a crisis.'' Councilman Dennis Zine said it was "a disaster that's going to happen."

"It really frustrates me that we've reduced crime," Zine, a reserve officer, said, "and all of a sudden we're going to see a surge.''

The expected influx of prisoners, whom the governor's office describes as nonviolent, comes at a bad time for the city: The deficit is projected to reach $400 million this year and some on the council, including former police Chief Bernard Parks, have said cuts in public safety spending are inevitable.

Speaking to the Sacramento Press Club Monday, Schwarzenegger described the release as "simply reform, parole reform."

"There is no prison releases at all," he said.


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