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Placer County has game plan to handle state prisoner influx

AB 109 community corrections partnership plan gains supervisors’ OK
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s state-prison realignment vision will lean heavily on incarcerating felons and the threat of jail time. But one group speaking to the Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday questioned whether enough rehabilitation programs are in place to keep released inmates from quickly going back behind bars. Supervisors approved a series of strategies Placer County law enforcement has developed to align county policies with Assembly Bill 109’s move to reduce the number of offenders incarcerated in state prison. Instead, low-level inmates and parolees are being put under county control. Placer County’s justice system is currently handling 49 more former state inmates a month than the expected 30, supervisors were told. Chief Probation Officer Marshall Hopper, chairman of the county’s Executive Committee of the Community Corrections Partnership, said that the blue-ribbon group of top justice system officials developed a comprehensive plan over the past five months that calls for maximized capacity at the North Auburn Jail and increased treatment for offenders. The South Placer Adult Correctional Facility in Roseville will also be an important part of future planning when it is completed for occupancy next year, he said. The partnership planning group included Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence, Sheriff Ed Bonner and District Attorney Scott Owens. Its report stated that if Placer County “remains committed to incarceration of criminal offenders, when appropriate and necessary, offenders may show a greater motivation to change their behavior and not commit further crimes in the county.” Supervisor Jack Duran was critical of AB 109, describing it as “passing the buck to counties.” But Duran had praise for what he said was a “culture change” for the Placer County justice system that retained the county’s emphasis on “the stick” rather than “the carrot” while providing opportunities for realignment concepts centering on rehabilitation. Lawrence said the AB 109 plan, approved 5-0 by supervisors, represents a good working relationship among many law enforcement entities. “This is leveraging positive partnerships in keeping the county safe,” Lawrence said. Auburn church group has concerns A committee of St. Teresa of Avila Church members wielded signs at the meeting asking “Is the plan a cell fulfilling prophecy?” and “Is it time to think outside the cell?” Joe Offer, a member of the group, said St. Teresa’s is located in North Auburn near the Placer County jail. “Our committee is concerned about the fate of individuals who are released from jail,” Offer said. “One alarming statistic we have learned is that 80-90 percent of individuals released will fail within 90 days and commit another crime.” Offer said that people are being released late at night at times that are unsafe for both those being released and for nearby neighborhood residents. “Many are released with no resources whatsoever – no transportation, clothing that is inadequate for the weather, no money, no way to make a phone call and no place to go,” Offer said. “No wonder so many commit another crime soon after they’re released.” Offer said his group cautiously endorses the plan but hopes that appropriate funding levels will be introduced this coming year to allow for assessment, treatment and education services to help inmates.