Batten down the hatches. The state is scheduled to release thousands of prisoners, with at least 5,000 coming to California, starting Jan. 25, according to a statement from the union representing rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers.

“The county of Los Angeles will be dramatically impacted, with over 5,000 felons to be released to our city,” said Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) President Paul M. Weber. “What concerns law enforcement is that unlike the current program, where released inmates have been placed on parole, restricted from certain types of activities, or provided various community-based rehabilitative resources, these inmates will be completely unsupervised.”

Weber said the only condition upon release will be that law-enforcement officials can search the convicts without their permission or that of a judge.

“We can expect crime to go up as a result of this massive release, considering California has the highest recidivism rate in the nation, with seven out of ten parolees reoffending then returning to the prison system,” he stated.

He said that some politicians' spin that the prisoners are mostly nonviolent isn't true because many were incarcerated after making plea bargains that reduced charges from allegations of violence to nonviolent offenses.

“The people being considered for release are convicted felons, many of whom have plea bargained their crimes down to lesser offenses,” he said. “A large number of them are parole violators – in other words, they are people who have already proven they cannot remain law abiding after being released from prison.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted a required plan for the release to a federal judge who approved the deal. However, the governor is still fighting the release in court. Under a federal court order, the state must let more than 40,000 prisoners go free to alleviate overcrowding and poor medical services in state lockups. It's not clear if that number will be reached under the Jan. 25 release.

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