A sweeping plan to make local officials responsible for supervising thousands of released California prisoners formerly monitored by the state has gotten off to a bumpy start in Los Angeles County, reports the Los Angeles Times. Many ex-criminals are not showing up for counseling appointments, some care centers are not being paid, and county bureaucrats are scrambling to correct foul-ups that have caused delays.
About 6,000 prisoners were shifted to county supervision under a realignment law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The intent was to cut state costs and reduce severe prison overcrowding by keeping nonviolent felons in local jails instead of transferring them to the state system. The supervision of probationers was also shifted to counties. Los Angeles County supervisors have been critical of realignment, saying the state was trying to pass costs to local government and fearing that a rise in crime would occur once prisoners are released. Over six months, about a quarter of the probationers have been arrested for allegedly committing new crimes, which is below the previous state average for probationers. But some politicians and community activists worry that the numbers could climb further, especially since about 10 percent of released convicts are not attending meetings or have gone missing.