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Probation chief wants GPS monitors on ‘habitual absconders’

County trying to deal with increased number of probationers

Posted: August 20, 2013 6:28 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2013 6:28 p.m.
 

SANTA CLARITA - The man in charge of monitoring criminals on probation in Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita Valley, wants more of the “habitual absconders” fitted with GPS tracking devices in an effort to keep better tabs on them.

Chief Jerry E. Powers of the Los Angeles County Probation Department told the county’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday that he’s recommending an increased use of GPS tracking units placed on those probationers who keep taking off.

Powers also recommended that habitual absconders spend more time behind bars due to revoked probation.

The probation boss made his recommendations Tuesday when he updated county supervisors on how his department is handling a surge of criminals placed on probation as a result of the state mandate that put state prisoners in county jails.

Responding to a court ruling that California must drastically reduce its overcrowded prison population by some 33,000 inmates over the next two years, Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2011 signed into law Assembly Bill 109 — the public-safety realignment bill — which took effect Oct. 1.

AB 109 shifted responsibility for nonviolent convicted felons and parolee supervision from the state prison system to county resources.

Since October 2011, when the bill went into effect, county officials have been called on to monitor 15,922 criminals released from custody and placed on Post-Release Community Supervision. In that time, 5.608 have been closed, meaning probationers have completed their terms of probation.

To date, county probation officers monitor more than 10,000 active cases.

In February, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Becker told The Signal there were 110 active cases being monitored in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Powers, explaining his 32-page progress report to county supervisors Tuesday, said about 95 percent of the felony sentences in the county are the result of negotiated plea deals between the prosecution and defense.

About 63 percent of the county’s felony sentences include grants of probation, he said.

Last month, 367 warrants were requested by the state for parolee absconders.

Also last month, probation officers asked the courts to revoke the probation of an additional 88 criminals and put them behind bars. Last year the Santa Clarita Valley added two new probation officers to monitor the increase in probationers.

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

 

 

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