Skip to comments.CA: Parole system failing - Killings illustrate breakdown
Posted on 07/05/2005 9:34:17 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
More than 7,000 felons have failed to report to their parole agents in Los Angeles County and are considered "at large," with warrants issued for their arrest, California Corrections Department documents show.
As of last month, nearly 20 percent of the 35,500 parolees released in Los Angeles County had failed to report -- accounting for more than one-third of the 19,380 parole violators statewide, documents show.
With nearly 114,000 parolees across the state and just 3,100 parole employees, analysts say the figures highlight a system in dire need of funding and reform.
"We have too many inmates and not enough (rehabilitation) programs," said Daniel Macallair, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in Oakland. "And when they do come out, the most neglected area is the entire field of parole.
"We are not able to provide any kind of meaningful re-entry services to help them make the transition from prisons to the streets. You couldn't invent a worse system. You don't have to be a social scientist to figure out what the consequences of this are going to be."
In late June, Jose Orozco -- a career criminal who was out on parole but had not reported to his parole agent since early this year -- was arrested in the slaying of sheriff's Deputy Jerry Ortiz. Ortiz was shot in the face in Hawaiian Gardens, about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Police Department authorities say Kenrick William Johnson, an at-large parolee with a 16-year criminal history, fatally shot Officer Ricardo Lizarraga in February 2004. Before Johnson could be tried in the slaying of Lizarraga, the first LAPD officer killed in the line of duty since 1988, the criminal parolee hanged himself in his cell. He was still alive when found, but died the next day.
Two other men were parolees-at-large from Los Angeles County when they became suspects in crimes that put them on the state's 10 Most Wanted List. Eduardo Gilbert Navarez, 29, is being sought in a 2001 double killing in Lynwood. Christopher Manley, 31, a member of the Nazi Lowrider gang, is wanted on attempted kidnapping charges.
Parolees are generally released in the county where they last lived before being sent to prison. With 31 percent, Los Angeles County has by far the greatest number of parolees in California. San Diego and San Bernardino counties are tied for second place, with 7 percent each, followed by Orange and Riverside counties, with 6 percent apiece.
Nationally, one in three parolees ends up back in prison before completing parole. In California, two out of three do.
"One of the areas where I see a real problem, and where we are failing miserably, is in the ability to provide people coming out of institutions the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves," said LAPD Assistant Chief George Gascon.
"The discussion is always about funding. But when it costs an average of $31,000 a year to keep someone in prison and $3,300 a year to keep someone on parole -- and we're doing a very poor job of supervising them -- there has to be a little more we can do to make the parole system work.
"And it's not because parole agents are not doing their jobs. They are overwhelmed."
Analysts say that once released, about 10 percent of parolees become homeless, nearly 80 percent are unemployed, and many are denied access to food programs and other essentials.
Focusing on helping parolees would free up prison space for more serious offenders, analysts say.
In 2003, a special commission urged state officials to reform the $6 billion-a-year corrections system, arguing that 125,000 felons are released each year with little preparation.
Since the commission's report, state officials have teamed up with academic researchers to study rehabilitative programs in other states.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger very recently appointed Roderick Hickman secretary of a newly reorganized state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The governor also named Walter Allen assistant secretary for correctional safety, overseeing fugitive-apprehension teams.
Allen said he not only knew slain Deputy Ortiz, but also had attended the funeral of the deputy's brother-in-law, Corrections Officer Manuel A. Gonzalez Jr., who was stabbed to death in January by an inmate at the California Institute for Men.
"I'm just tremendously upset by this," said Allen, who added that he plans to target at-large parolees immediately.
"We are compiling a list of the worst-of-the-worst violators who are (at large)," he said. "Then we are going to hunt them down and put them back into custody where they belong."
Reform could be difficult.
Macallair said the California Correctional Peace Officers Association has run TV ads opposing any changes that would reduce the state's prison population by placing more parolees in transitional housing programs.
And both Macallair and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said more money is needed to provide rehabilitative services in the parole system.
"The parole system has never had full funding," Baca said. "We (the public) would rather give full funding for the prisons and let the parole system put the public at risk."
Just one word needed as usual: Immigration.
Oh, one addition - why on earth is GWB not doing anything about the situation?
Violent offenders should not be paroled and should have long sentences.
Non-violent offenders should get some other type of sentence.
Alternatively, we have too many criminals and not enough prison cells and sentences are too short.
There is a lot of stuff being done (maybe not quite as much as we would wish to see), and some of which we actually do hear about. But alas, we are at war, and resources are limited... or so we are told, as pork flows deep thru the aisles of Congre$$.
It is ironic it places us most in jeoopardy when we can least afford it.
btw, Presidents come and go but Congre$$ goes on and on..
Because it's more important to keep pot smokers in jail than killers, we release the killers to the street.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
Why do you say that? How many immigrants lose their legal status while in prison and become classified as illegals? How many illegals are granted parole.
In one word: Wrong.
One more addition, neither is the CA state government. They could be doing things since the fed has shirked.
Haven't you heard, crime is spread by lack of funding.
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