Governor "commutes" sentences of 6,000 inmates

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Paul Haney (626) 755-4759

Governor “commutes” sentences of 6,000 inmates
League releases letter to the Governor with three suggestions to help protect public safety

Los Angeles – January 21, 2010 - The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), representing the 9,900 sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department, wrote to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today outlining three steps the Governor should take before releasing thousands of felons back into local communities.

“We are very concerned that the released prison inmates will be completely unsupervised and will be sent back into local communities without any attempt to transition them back into society,” said Paul M. Weber, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “Released felons will be on ‘non-revocable’ releases, meaning they cannot be sent back to prison unless charged and convicted of a new crime – so in essence, their sentence for the current crime has been commuted.”

“The one condition imposed on the released inmates, that they may be searched without a warrant, is a pretense that there are at least some limitations and oversight in place. However, since local law enforcement doesn’t even know who these inmates are, there is no substance to the search condition,” added Weber.

“We are concerned about victims these felons will leave in their wake before being rearrested for committing new crimes. Our concerns are supported by research,” stated Weber. In an extensive study titled The Effect of Prison Release on Regional Crime Rates[1], UC Berkeley Professor Steven Raphael and UCLA Professor Michael Stoll explicitly document a rise in crime correlated to prison release and warn of the dangers of large releases – like the one we are on the verge of. The full report can be viewed at www.jstor.org/pss/25067409.

The text of the LAPPL letter to the Governor follows:

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

We are writing to express our deepest concerns about the upcoming massive release of state prison inmates throughout California.

The safety of the residents in our communities must always be the most important obligation of government. The planned early release of 25,000 inmates on January 25 will seriously compromise the efforts of law enforcement to control crime in their communities and protect the public. As the leaders of the largest law enforcement unions in the state, we would like to request that the state implement the following three measures before you begin your massive early prisoner release:

  1. Ability to object prior to release -The state should notify local law enforcement agencies with information regarding each felon who is to be released early, and a review board should be established which will allow the local law enforcement officials to object to the release of a felon and have its objections both reviewed and documented by State Parole. This allows each impacted community to voice their concerns about the inmate prior to release, and hopefully impact releases which will adversely affect the community.
  2. Notification prior to release - Once a determination has been made to release a felon, the state must notify the local police station two weeks prior to release or authorized relocation of any felon. The following information should be conveyed: the felon's address; the crime for which they were committed and full criminal history; the name of the responsible parole officer and that officers' supervisor, and any conditions which have been placed on the parolee so that local law enforcement can perform Fourth Amendment waiver searches.
  3. Tools to monitor after release - The state must immediately notify the local police station of any parolee who absconds, tampers with GPS or other tracking devices, undertakes any efforts to subvert the officers' ability to monitor the parolee, or has been given permission by Parole to relocate out of the community. As a condition of release, the state should require that every felon released early be required to identify himself/herself to any law enforcement officer, and acknowledge his/her “search and seizure” term as if on supervised parole when contacted by local law enforcement

We are concerned that in an effort to save money, public safety and the crime reductions that many communities have seen will be jeopardized. We believe that the three suggestions above are reasonable and reconcile the needs of public safety and the cost reductions the state desires while lessening the adverse impacts of the upcoming release program upon local communities.

We hope you agree that public safety must trump all other concerns - economic or political - and we hope that you will implement the three suggestions we have raised in this letter and look forward to working with you and your administration to implement them.

Very truly yours,

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Los Angeles Police Protective League



About the LAPPL: Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,900 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at www.LAPD.com.