Auburn inherits Marysville parole agents, cases

Woodland, Chico and Oroville also received case transfers from Marysville office
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Another wrinkle of uncertainty over the state?s redesign of the criminal justice system has now hit the Auburn area. The Department of Corrections has closed its Marysville office and transferred parole agents and parole cases to offices in Auburn, Woodland, Chico and Oroville. The move is being made as Placer County law enforcement begins to see the impact of state public-safety realignment measures to reduce the number of prison inmates and transfer many of them to county jails. While the impact of the parole-office caseload shift to Auburn that started last month has yet to be completely felt, concerns are already being raised. Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn said his hope for parolees is that they?re on their way to rehabilitation after being released from prison. ?But there are ones who are not who will be passing through our town,? Ruffcorn said. ?There are some unknowns and I have concerns.? There will be parolees who are homeless and, with the office shift to Auburn, some will be reporting to the office frequently, he said. With a state recidivism figure of 70 percent for prison inmates returning to incarceration, Ruffcorn said there is a possibility that the Auburn area will have more homeless parolees within its environs. Department of Corrections spokesman Jeffrey Callison confirmed this week that the Marysville office closed May 31 and four agents were relocated to the Highway 49 office in North Auburn. The Auburn office previously had eight agents and supervised about 450 parolees before the May closure in Marysville, he said. While the number of new parolees supervised out of the Auburn office was not available, the Department of Corrections has previously released figures that provide a rough estimate of the upward revision for the Placer County location. Yuba County?s 352 parolees were to be supervised by Auburn and Woodland offices while Sutter County?s 314 parolees were to report to agents at the Chico and Oroville offices. Capt. George Malim, commander of the Placer County Jail, has also raised the possibility of even more parolees reporting to the Auburn office in the near future ? this time after a closure of the Placerville office. Malim said that the Placer County Sheriff?s Office experienced a ?spike? in parole violators housed in the Placer County Jail in the first four months of realignment, which started last October. It had leveled out and appeared to have reached a relative plateau by May, he said. The average daily population of parole violators has been around 44 since January, Malim said. ?What is unknown now is the impact of the closure of the Yuba-Sutter parole office in Marysville,? Malim said. ?And there is discussion that by the end of the year they expect to close the Placerville-El Dorado County parole office, which handles Amador County, El Dorado County and East Sacramento. So those should further impact the number of parole violators we see.? Callison said his office?s policy is not to comment on, confirm or deny any report of possible closures. Overall, the move to have counties handle some of the state prison system?s roster of prisoners identified as non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offenders (referred to as ?nons?) has meant a gradual but steady increase in average daily jail population, Malim said. The ?nons? are handled by county probation officers when they are not incarcerated. ?This trend has continued and there is no indication this trend will level out any time in the near future,? he said. The average daily population for nons has slowly trended upward, he said. ?Many are sentenced to terms of roughly 16 months,? Malim said. ?However, many have received terms of two years, three years and up to five years. The most extreme case I?m aware of is Santa Barbara County with a 23-year sentence to county jail.? Malim said the Sheriff?s Office expects to be housing prisoners with some high sentencing numbers eventually. ?Hopefully not that high,? Malim said. ?But that could happen very easily.? Malim said that as the longer sentences take up jail space, they will combine with more common 12- to 24-month sentences and normal daily arrests to bring the Auburn jail to above capacity. Operations capacity at the North Auburn facility is now at 581 inmates. By the end of May, realignment inmates accounted for 25 percent of the operational capacity, Malim said. Malim added that being a ?non? doesn?t mean a prisoner is a ?non-sophisticated? criminal. ?They don?t qualify for minimum security housing or inmate work crews and many don?t qualify for medium security dormitory space,? he said. ?As a result, the numbers of prisoners taking up cell bed space has increased.? Malim said 35 percent of general-population maximum-security housing and 25 percent of administrative-segregation maximum-security space is occupied by realignment inmates. But only 10 percent of medium-to-low security is occupied by realignment inmates. ?The trend is clear,? Malim said. ?Realignment is impacting our limited cell space used to house the most sophisticated and dangerous offenders.?