Recently in Probation and Parole Category
A Fresno man who was convicted for sodomizing two infants is now at large, and may be in Stanislaus County.
The California Department of Corrections issued a warrant for the offender, Kenneth Lawson, on April 16. He was released on GPS-monitored parole, but is believed to have cut off his GPS tracking ankle bracelet.
There will be two varieties of spin put on this study. The first and most publicized will come from "Smart on Crime" advocates, which includes the ACLU, the Urban Institute, the Sentencing Project and much of academia. They will point to these findings as proof that fixed and progressively severe consequences for criminals, such as mandatory minimums and habitual criminal sentencing have failed to rehabilitate criminals. We will be told that the current transition to alternative sentencing featuring "evidence based practices" and treatment programs will help to reform the current racially biased system, lower the recividism rate, improve public safety, and remove the stigma on America as the "incarceration nation."
Voters in 11 states can permanently lose their right to vote if convicted of a felony. Among most other states, that right can be restored only after serving some combination of their jail time, parole and probation. But most voters believe someone convicted of a felony should regain the right to vote after serving their sentence problem-free.What's with the "but"? Completion of the period of parole or probation is part of the sentence, so the proposition endorsed by most voters is consistent with the law of most states.
Steinberg's rendition of the deal is here. The deal calls for a request to the three-judge panel to delay the December 31 deadline for getting down to the panel's completely arbitrary population figure. If the judges say no, then Brown's plan to expand capacity goes into effect. Steinberg's release does not say that dismissing the pending appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court is part of the deal.
There is funding for increased rehabilitation programs. I was struck by this paragraph (emphasis added):
Changes the funding formula for SB 678 (2009), which was affected by realignment in a way that dramatically reduced how the savings to probation were calculated. SB 678 provides performance-based grants to counties who have established programs that successfully reduce the number of felony probationers who return to prisons. With this change, probation's continued success with the felony probation offender population will result in approximately $100 million more for evidence-based probation practices under the new formula.Steinberg defines "success" as the probationer (parolee?) not returning to prison. We at CJLF define rehabilitation success as not committing any more crimes. Those are not the same thing. If a "success" rate can be boosted, with a resulting flow of money, by letting a probationer or parolee commit new crimes and get nothing but a
The reality is that major reductions in recidivism through rehabilitation programs are not going to happen. Here and there a program may help someone go straight who otherwise would not have, but most releasees will either go straight or stay crooked on their own regardless of what the programs they are subjected to.
Directing the flow of funding to programs that have been proved successful is a basically good idea, but the devil is in the details. Success must be carefully defined and validly measured.
Fast-forward 50 years, and those who do not remember this history are working to condemn the nation to repeat it, over the vehement objection of those who do remember. One of the programs touted to rehabilitate criminals so we won't need to lock so many up is halfway houses. Or maybe not. Sam Dolnick has this story in the NYT:
The federal government and states across the country have spent billions of dollars in recent years on sprawling, privately run halfway houses, which are supposed to save money and rehabilitate inmates more effectively than prisons do.Thanks to Michael Santella for the link.
But now, a groundbreaking study by officials in Pennsylvania is casting serious doubt on the halfway-house model, concluding that inmates who spent time in these facilities were more likely to return to crime than inmates who were released directly to the street.
The findings startled the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, which responded last month by drastically overhauling state contracts with the companies that run the 38 private halfway houses in Pennsylvania. The system costs more than $110 million annually.
Pennsylvania's corrections secretary, John E. Wetzel, who oversaw the study, called the system "an abject failure."
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.
The number of paroled sex offenders who are fugitives in California is 15 percent higher today than before Gov. Jerry Brown's sweeping law enforcement realignment law took effect 17 months ago, according to figures released Wednesday by the state corrections department.
The increase amounts to 360 more sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown and who were not reporting to their parole officers last year.
An Associated Press analysis of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation data shows that 2,706 paroled sex offenders dropped out of sight in the 15 months since the new law took effect in October 2011, compared to 2,346 in the 15 months before realignment. The numbers were obtained by the AP before their public release.
That's an average of 180 sex offender fugitives each month, up from 156 before realignment.
The law in this area is largely set by two US Supreme Court decisions, California Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499 (1995) and Garner v. Jones, 529 U.S. 244 (2000). (CJLF filed an amicus brief in Morales.)
Vicks is a poster boy for the kind of criminal whose release victims should not have to go back and oppose more than once in a great while, if ever. He committed a string of violent offenses including kidnapping, armed robbery, and gang rape. He received well-deserved sentences of life with parole and 37+ years, consecutive. His minimum parole eligibility date was 2010 for 1983 crimes.
California's law of parole was once so criminal-friendly as to require preposterous annual parole hearings, even for multiple murderers. This has been tightened up since, once by the law at issue in Morales and again in Marsy's Law. Under the Morales and Garner precedents, a change in parole consideration intervals can apply retroactively if it does not add too much risk that a prisoner will be denied parole at a time when he would otherwise have been granted it.
Marsy's Law sets a presumptive interval of 15 years, but it allows some discretion for setting shorter intervals and for reconsideration upon receipt of new information or a change in circumstances. The court has to make some pretty generous assumptions about how this discretion will be used to get under the "significant risk" bar. The facial attack has been rejected, and Marsy's Law has been upheld for now, but we are not out of the woods.
Would a ban on assault weapons have prevented this crime? No, the killer probably used a revolver. Would background checks have helped? Probably not, despite what the expert interviewed in the preceding link says. Extending background checks to gun shows or even to private sales by law-abiding individuals won't stop criminals from getting them through black-market sales or just stealing them. (I am not against background checks. I just don't think they will have a large effect on crime rates.)
So what does work? Mostly measures that are opposed by the same people calling for these ineffective measures. First, locking criminals up works. Jason Meisner of the ChiTrib reports:
The reputed gang member accused of gunning down 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton last month was on the street even though he had been arrested three times in connection with break-ins and trespassing while on probation for a weapons conviction in recent months, the Tribune has learned.
In two of those arrests, including one just 2 1/2 months ago, Cook County probation officials failed to notify prosecutors or the judge that Michael Ward had been arrested on the new misdemeanor charges and allegedly violated his probation.
The head of the county's probation department acknowledged Monday that his office fell short in its responsibilities and vowed to find out what went wrong.
If they hadn't "fallen short" in locking up this criminal, Hadiya would be alive.
Another measure that works is the proactive policing of the kind New York City uses over the vehement opposition of the Politically Correct. Holman Jenkins has this column in the WSJ:
What do Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan and Scott Peterson have in common besides murder?
They are all classified as "low-risk" repeat offenders by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The "low-risk" appraisals are based on everything from their age (in Manson's case, 78) and conduct behind bars to the number of years since their last arrest.
Luckily, an inmate's risk score isn't the only criterion for parole, says Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. "It only predicts the likelihood of reconviction of a felony upon release," she said.
The terms "low risk" - and "non-serious" - and the public's perception of what the terms mean - have become central to the politics and public relations of prison overcrowding.