D.A. Warns Of Public Safety Danger Under Proposed State Budget Prison Proposal


Saying it would “wreak havoc” in the criminal justice system, District Attorney Steve Cooley warned today that a state budget proposal to transfer thousands of convicted felons and parolees to county custody and supervision threatens the safety of citizens.

“The realignment proposal is a public safety nightmare,” Cooley told the Assembly Budget Subcommittee during a late afternoon hearing in the Board of Supervisors hearing room at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.

The hearing is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal that would transfer responsibility for specified “lower-level offenders” and parolees from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to individual counties.

Cooley noted that Los Angeles County already faces a severe and chronic jail overcrowding problem that prompted a more than 20-year-old ongoing federal court-mandated population cap on the jail population. This has resulted in many incidents of early release of county jail prisoners over the years.

The District Attorney said that the county’s jails, according to the Sheriff’s own statistics, house about 18,000 inmates. About 90 percent are pre-trial detainees, leaving some 1,800 beds for post-conviction sentencing. Filling those beds now are those sentenced to misdemeanor terms, those sentenced to jail for violating probation, or defendants who have been given a jail term as a condition of a felony probation. These sentenced prisoners are routinely released early.

Cooley estimated that under the Governor’s proposal, up to 9,000 convicted felons would be required to serve their sentences in Los Angeles County. “There is no room in the jails for them,” he said. “Nor is there room for an estimated 6,500 Los Angeles County parole violators who would receive jail terms in lieu of prison under the proposal,” he added.

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One thought on “D.A. Warns Of Public Safety Danger Under Proposed State Budget Prison Proposal

  1. Prison Crisis Cure
    Profound reforms most generally follow disasters, major crises and first-class fiascos. California in particular and other states are therefore ready to solve the current incarceration crisis with the following reforms:
    1. With regard to manufactured goods now made exclusively in foreign countries: (a) repeal the federal statutes that killed prison industries (Hawes-Cooper Act of 1929, Ashurst-Sumners Act of 1935, Walsh-Healey Act of 1936) and any state statutes that bar the sale or transportation of prison-made goods, (b) exempt and provide immunity for prison industries and employers from and against all labor and employment laws, wage & hour requirements, ADA, FMLA, discrimination laws, and all other worker protections; except OSHA should remain in full force and effect, (c) encourage secure private work communities and workhouses run by private businesses and religious organizations providing spiritual support, hiring prisoners to work under wages, hours and conditions of employment to be freely negotiated and agreed upon in writing, (d) make appropriate deductions from prisoners’ earnings for crime victim restitution, child support, court costs and costs of incarceration.
    2. Enact laws providing for judicial corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration, particularly for non-violent drug-related offenses and crimes carrying sentences of less than 5 or 10 years; with the following safeguards:
    (a) Administer corporal punishment only for offenses carrying potential sentences of confinement or incarceration. Allow incarcerated offenders the option of taking their sentences as corporal punishment after some period of incarceration. A court could enter alternative sentences in its discretion, using all available punishment options and sequences. One of the purposes of re-introducing corporal punishment is to reduce incarceration with community corrections. Corporal punishment would take place in the community.
    (b) Take into consideration the age, weight, health, physical condition and gender of the defendant in order to determine the offender’s ability to take corporal punishment. A formula or sentencing guideline could take account of these factors. Medical personnel could monitor the administration of punishment.
    (c) Administer corporal punishment only pursuant to a final judgment entered by a court of law, after a fair trial or plea agreement, and only in the discretion of the sentencing judge.
    (d) Impose corporal punishment sentences within a pre-determined sentencing schedule using standardized instruments, force and procedures.
    (e) Conduct corporal punishment in public, supervised by the judge who sentenced the defendant, and videotape it for a public record.
    (f) After corporal punishment, the convict should work full-time, go to school full-time, or participate in substance abuse rehabilitation. Required work would include employment in a work community or workhouse, at a job offered by the private sector, at a job provided by the public sector, as a fulltime volunteer, or as otherwise ordered by the court. Some juveniles from bad homes would need to recover in a better moral and physical environment.

    3. Enact laws providing for the placement of color-coded metallic or plastic collars on convicted felons or juvenile offenders in lieu of incarceration. Variations in weight, comfort, composition and color are based upon the gravity, type and time of the offense and current behavior. Shades of red = violent crimes, shades of green = property crimes, shades of yellow = sex crimes. After entry of a judgment by a court, allow probation officers and school officials to adjust the collars, within limits set by statute or the judgment, up or down depending upon the current behavior of the offender.

    For supporting authority, rationale, details and suggestions, please read Prison & Slavery – A Surprising Comparison by John Dewar Gleissner, Esq.


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