AB109 just a revenue source for the county – how’s that working out in your neighborhood?

12 Aug

Well, after that post I made yesterday, including news that Butte County jail is a “COVID hot spot” and my suspicions that they are releasing infected inmates into the community, I found this piece in Cal Matters today:

https://calmatters.org/justice/2020/08/california-prisons-early-release-coronavirus/

Desperate to control the outbreak at California’s overcrowded prisons, state officials opened the gates to thousands of prisoners like Scull, including many before their scheduled release date.

The reporter speaks to an ex-inmate from San Quentin – a guy convicted of carjacking and robbery – who ended up in a motel room in LA. So how many of these people are headed for Chico? And since when is carjacking not a violent crime? 

And like I also suspected, the support and supervision system for these releases is thin to non-existent.

“I had friends out there protesting saying, ‘Let them all out.’ I said, ‘You don’t understand. There’s no system outside that can handle this,’” said Judith Tata, executive director of the California Reentry Program, which provides parole and pre-release services to inmates at San Quentin. “We have people who are transient when they’re arrested. They’re mentally ill, have substance abuse issues and we’re releasing them early to no social services.”

Tata said her program got letters from people in prison asking for help connecting with services on the outside, but by the time they could respond, the men were already out.”

This is how Butte County inmate John Conway ended up along a road outside of Downieville, now accused of shooting three people, one of whom died. 

Butte County needs to stop participating in AB109 transfers.  I wrote a letter to the editor about it – let’s see how long it takes Flash Read to print this one. 

A man who’d been released from Butte County jail is suspect in a Sierra County killing.  Arrested three times over 2019-20, charges including battery, criminal threats and auto theft. Butte County court dismissed charges in two cases. In January the court gave the man a “split sentence” – part jail time and part “community supervision,” despite at least two failures to appear for previous court dates.

Just six months later he appeared along a Sierra County road with a gun, accused of shooting several people, one dead.

Several grand juries have found our jail inadequate. Overcrowding leads to releases, including prisoners sent here through AB109. In 2011  256 “transfers” were sent to Butte County from state prisons, almost half of them under “community supervision”.  A 2014 report said 56% were rearrested, many for new offenses, including “a non-trivial increase in the number of failure to appear charges.”

AB109, The Public Safety Realignment Act, “transfers responsibility to local counties for supervising specified offenders released from State prison.” A 2011 report shows Butte County received over $3,000,000 to initiate the program. In 2015, the county received over $40,000,000 to expand the jail, but earlier this year, the sheriff revealed he has not taken any bids, blaming costs up due to the Camp Fire.

County budget reports show the AB109 money goes almost entirely for salaries and benefits – of $3,145,402, only $838,061 went toward “one time costs,” including “facilities remodeling”.

AB109 seems to be nothing more than a revenue source for the county to pay salaries and benefits.  How’s this working out in your neighborhood?

Juanita Sumner, Chico

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