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The Uncelebrated Jumping Felons of Calaveras County

Dana Nichols has this article on realignment in Calaveras County, California (locale of Mark Twain's first published piece of fiction).

The agencies charged with enforcing laws and supervising criminal offenders in Calaveras County aren't getting along with each other and are bungling key tasks required under California's 2011 criminal justice realignment, according to a county grand jury report.

Along with shifting a lot of incarcerated felons from state prison to county jail, the realignment bill also shifted the supervision of a lot of released felons from the state parole system to county probation offices.  Over the years, probation officers have developed a different culture from parole officers.  I'm sure this is due in large part to the differences in the criminal populations they have supervised.  The people supervised by probation officers in the past were, by definition, those that the judge thought were suitable for probation, largely based on the judge's assessment of their potential for rehabilitation.  Those who ended up being supervised by parole officers tended to be the hardened criminals.  Probation officers therefore tended to develop more of a rehabilitation viewpoint, while parole officers tended toward a viewpoint that their job was to protect the public from this still-dangerous criminal.
This shift to the more rehabilitation-oriented people is not a byproduct.  It is part of Jerry Brown's plan.  Released felons are assigned to county probation or state parole based on their offense of commitment without regard to their record.  A felon whose last offense was auto theft but has a prior forcible rape is a "nonserious, nonviolent, nonsex offender" for this purpose.

The Calaveras Sheriff is not happy with his county's Probation Department.  In particular, he is ticked off, and rightly so, and how casually they treat cutting off electronic monitoring bracelets.

The grand jury report indicated that probation officers treat it as a "technical violation" when parolees cut off their monitoring bracelets. Kuntz said he sees it as a serious problem.

Right now, we've got five or six people who've disconnected from the program running loose," he said of offenders who remove their bracelets.

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