The realignment of California’s prison system since October 2011 resulted in a reduction in offenders being sent to state prison, as many instead are serving time in county jails. Additionally, eligible offenders released from state prison are now supervised by county probation officers rather than state parole officials. Because of a reporting error, this story initially mischaracterized realignment as involving the large-scale release of offenders from crowded state prisons. Also, because of incorrect information provided to the Register, the location of a sex offender’s arrest was initially incorrect. Police now say one man was arrested on Superior Avenue and another on Placentia Avenue.
Costa Mesa police launched a well-publicized roundup of probationers suspected of re-offending Monday as the city expressed dissatisfaction with “realignment,” which includes the transfer of responsibility for offenders from crowded state prisons since October 2011.
With media invited to ride along, officers arrested seven people – four on probation and three new alleged offenders.
“Not just in Costa Mesa, but you have all the cities in Orange County, and I would say California in general, that have been affected” by realignment, said Mayor Jim Righeimer. “Crime rates, especially petty crime and property crime, are up all throughout California and it’s not up across the nation.”
Police said that among those arrested Monday by Costa Mesa police and Orange County Probation officers were two sex offenders who were subject to a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2011, AB109.
Under that law, supervision of low-level offenders has been transferred from the state to local agencies. And because of prison crowding, some offenders who would normally go to state prisons are now serving time in county jails.
Court orders are requiring the state to reduce the state prison population by about 33,000 people.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has said that about 1,000 inmates locally at any one time are AB109 inmates, while the county Probation Department has said that through January more than 2,600 inmates have been released from state prisons and placed in county supervision.
One of the arrested sex offenders, a 66-year-old, was found hiding in bushes with a sleeping bag behind a row of thick foliage along Superior Avenue, said Commander Lt. Mark Manley. His name was not immediately released, but police said he was suspected of failing to report to his probation officer. Police also arrested a 19-year-old sex offender at a mobile home park, on Placentia Avenue in Newport Beach.
“Here in Costa Mesa we have zero tolerance,” said Righeimer. “If you don’t follow the rules, we’re going to check on you and make sure you are, and if you’re not, you’re going back to jail.”
The mayor also complained that the shift in responsibility under AB109 is stressing the resources of police and other local agencies.
By JOSEPH PIMENTEL/ ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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