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Counties Struggle With New Probationers



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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

County parole departments in California are in the third month of trying to integrate former prison inmates into county probation systems. Such inmates are classified as non-violent, non-serious, non-sex-offenders.  So far, Sacramento County has processed 700 of them, including one man, Aaron Suggs, who was arrested this week for sexually assaulting a woman and robbing her in her home.  

Suggs was released to Sacramento County Probation as a non-serious offender under the state's new "re-alignment" policy.  He had been in prison for drugs. 

Alan Seeber is with Sacramento County probation.  He says the state's classification of some parolees is flawed.  

SEEBER:   "Say somebody was committed to state prison for assault with a deadly weapon and served five years of state prison time.  They were then paroled, completed their parole and then were subsequently arrested for something like a vehicle theft.  That vehicle theft would then qualify as a non-serious, non violent, non-sex offense."

Suggs' ten convictions in Sacramento were mostly for property crimes or drugs.

Sacramento County Probation is not sure how many of the 700 have already reoffended.   Dana Toyama with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the state is not tracking the number of offenders who re-offend, but counties are encouraged to.

TOYAMA:  "In June, funding will be re-allocated to the counties based on the actual impact of re-alignment to the counties. So, it's important for counties to maintain good records and good accounting for how may offenders they're seeing."

Toyama says nearly 8,000 inmates were released statewide to the supervision of probation departments in November and December.  Both Toyama and Seeber say studies have shown local supervision of parolees can reduce the recidivism rate from two-thirds to about one-third.

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