LAPPL Blog: The official blog of the Los Angeles Policy Protective League

Realignment: The need for fixes continues

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/05/2012 @ 04:56 PM

Jose Luis Saenz was taken into custody Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

Jose Luis Saenz was taken into custody Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

On Thanksgiving, a specialized group of police officers, the FBI and Mexican authorities were able to capture a dangerous fugitive, Jose Luis Saenz, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Saenz, an American citizen, who had vowed to murder police officers, was arrested without incident and extradited back to the United States.

Jose Luis Saenz is a hard-core gang member who has a long history of violence, with several prison sentences. Shortly after being paroled in 1998, parole agents issued an arrest warrant for Saenz for failing to show up for parole supervision - again. A few months later, LAPD Hollenbeck Detectives notified parole agents that Saenz was a named suspect for the murders of two rival gang members on July 25, 1998. Less than three weeks after that, Saenz was again named as a murder suspect for the rape and killing of his girlfriend.

Fast forward to 2008, and Saenz was yet again named as a suspect in the murder of Oscar Torres in Whittier, a killing apparently captured on videotape. Wanted for four murders, Saenz made the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list in 2009.

So how is someone on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list discharged from parole several months before he’s actually captured? As a result of realignment legislation, the Division of Adult Parole Operations is now making the conscious decision to discharge thousands of parolees who have new arrest warrants if the crime that originally sent them to prison was for low-level, non-violent criminal offenses, even if these parolees are now wanted for a violent crime(s). This was the case with Jose Luis Saenz, who was discharged from parole on August 17, 2012.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League has warned the community that realignment would result in mass discharges of very dangerous felons and the deaths of innocent individuals. While realignment was enacted years after Saenz was first wanted, what justification does the Parole Department have for discharging Saenz in August, when he’s still wanted for killing four people?

As we have said before, one common-sense fix is to evaluate who is eligible for “realignment” based an inmate’s total arrest and conviction record – not merely the last offense for which he or she is incarcerated. The other flaws, unfortunately, will only continue to surface as more people fall victim to those who, just over a year ago, were appropriately housed in state prisons.

And when people are as bad as Jose Luis Saenz, law enforcement should have every tool to catch them and keep them from hurting someone else, without the flaws in the corrections system working against them.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


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