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D.A. predicts crime spike when state hands over prisoners

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Rong-Gong Lin II reports in the L.A. Times:

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said a new state law to force counties, instead of the state, to jail non-violent felons is a "horribly flawed plan" that would increase crime on the streets.

"Public safety will be seriously jeopardized," Cooley said Tuesday. "We're not kidding. There will be tens of thousands of people let out all over California, who would otherwise be incarcerated.... I've been predicting ... that there will be a spike in crime.

"The state Legislature is abandoning their highest-priority core mission in terms of public safety, shifting it to the counties. And it is a bait and switch. They had a big fiscal problem, so they're abandoning a core mission and the county's going to pick up the pieces, and the public is going to pay the price," Cooley told reporters outside the L.A. County Hall of Administration.

Cooley said there's not enough room in the county jails to house felons who would otherwise go to state prison. Already, county jails are being forced to release their own inmates early.

Cooley is well known in the state (and disliked by some of the hard-core DAs) for his restrained use of the Three Strikes law.  The people who have applauded him for that restraint need to listen to him now.  This bill was a terrible idea, and it needs to be repealed.

Update:  Thomas Watkins of AP has this story on the same subject.  On the SF Chron website, the article is headlined "LA district attorney frets over parolee transfer."  Imagine if the same headline writer had been around on the 18th of April in '75:  "Paul Revere frets over the British coming."

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