Felon release a threat to communities

At the December meeting of the Glendale Homeowner’s Coordinating Council, a presentation by Glendale police Captain Michael Rock brought attention to an impending threat to all of us: the release of felons from state prisons to local areas before they complete their sentences.

This travesty is a result of a federal judge ruling that California state prisons are overcrowded and must be reduced and Gov. Jerry Brown’s flawed policy of realignment, which means that the California system of parole as we have known it no longer exists.

The result is approximately 33,000 felons are being released into our communities with no mechanism to ensure successful reentry into society, and no mechanism for anyone who violates the conditions of their release. This population has a recidivism rate of 70%, according to police, and 11,000 of these felons will be directed to Los Angeles County by end of year 2011.

The fallacy in all of this maneuvering is that Los Angeles County lock-up facilities are themselves overcrowded and cannot accommodate the additional load of this extra prison population. So much of this state’s offload cannot be housed and as a result they will be supervised using monitoring devices.

The difficulty with the approach is that there are not sufficient personnel to adequately do the monitoring work. They, like most agencies in California, have been subjected to severe cutbacks in dollars and workforces.

The state has exacerbated the problem by sending the released felons back to their counties of origin, but without accompanying dollars. As part of the record, this is a continuing practice in our state. Our leadership in Sacramento is in the business of creating laws, but very seldom in the business of paying for the enforcement of these laws.

The real threat is in a rising crime rate and our inability to cope, i.e. if a released felon is re-arrested and found guilty of the accused crime, he likely won’t serve time because the prisons are overcrowded. Ultimately, they will be released and continue to do what they do best — practice crime.

Rock encouraged us to be more alert and to be diligent in formulating Neighborhood Watch organizations. The Police Department will assist with the organizing and structuring of the Neighborhood Watch in all five districts in Glendale.

The rationale of Neighborhood Watch is that every one of us should be on the alert and watch for unusual happenings in our neighborhood and report them to our district commanders, thereby, assisting in reducing the impending acts of crime. The tri-city area, including Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena, will be home to more than 1,300 released felons, according to police.

I would suggest that this threat to our safety and well-being become one of the priorities of local city councils in this coming year, that they use every opportunity to emphasize the particulars and the incidents that have occurred regarding this subject at meetings, and that they continuously remind the citizenry that there is something we can do about this dilemma.

I would further suggest that Rock and his Powerpoint presentation be aired on local access TV channels on a regular basis. If every one of us helps in diverting this threat, we all benefit.

Carl Raggio


Editor’s note: Raggio is a former mayor of Glendale.

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