Hundreds of California sex offenders released on parole have been permitted to remain free even though they were arrested for new crimes over the past year, state prison officials tell the San Diego Union-Tribune. Terri McDonald, undersecretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said that more than 4,000 sex offenders were sent back to jail after committing new crimes since Oct. 1, 2011, when the state launched a program to shift tens of thousands of inmates from state prisons to county jails.
Over the same period, 481 sex offenders were arrested 862 times and all of them avoided lockup, she said. “What we have is a small number of cases and a small number of counties at a small number of times where the jail capacity is such that some offenders are not returned to custody,” McDonald said. “There have been challenges associated with this.” The information came to light after the newspaper requested details about how prison officials are managing realignment, the 2011 legislation that steered tens of thousands of state inmates to county jails. Monitoring sexual predators is a particularly sensitive topic in San Diego County because registered sex offender John Gardner violated parole repeatedly without being sent back to prison and then killed two teenagers.