The number of parolees arrested for new crimes in Los Angeles County has dropped since Gov. Jerry Brown's realignment plan took effect six months ago, drawing cautious optimism from some state and local officials.
The county Probation Department is currently supervising about 6,200 parolees - officially known as post-release supervised persons or PSPs - who were released from state prisons after Oct. 1.
As a group, PSPs have been involved in 1,600 arrests through mid-March, though only about 700 felony cases have been presented to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Statistics on misdemeanor cases were not available.
That represents about a 25 percent recidivism rate over the six month period - or about 50 percent when figured at an annual rate.
Dana Toyama, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the numbers point to a decline in the recidivism rate.
"Before realignment, California had a 67 percent recidivism rate," she said. "That means almost seven out of every 10 people we let out came back to us (within a year)."
The lower rate in the county, she said, is "incredible."
"It's dramatically less than what we had before."
Toyama stressed, however, that six months is too short of a period to gauge the success of the realignment plan. She noted it has not even been fully implemented yet.
County Probation Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham said the improvement in the recidivism rate might have been understated because some of the arrests appeared to have been counted twice by mistake, or were related to crimes allegedly committed years ago, instead of during the past six months.
"It's probably too soon to really evaluate how well we're going to do relative to recidivism," he said. "But I think PSPs are aware of the fact that we've thrown out a broad net of services and reached out to people in the community to hold them accountable."
Under the realignment plan, the state forced counties to take responsibility for supervising parolees in their jurisdiction who were released after Oct. 1.
Previously, state parole officers were responsible for those parolees.
Now, county probation officers are in charge of visiting those parolees at their homes and connecting them with county departments and community organizations that provide housing, food, education, job training, substance abuse treatment, medical services, transportation and other necessities.
The state is supposed to reimburse counties for providing those services, but Supervisor Michael Antonovich complained the funding is not enough and not guaranteed to continue indefinitely.
He warned that a separate component of the realignment plan - which requires low-risk inmates to stay at county jails instead of state prison - would lead to shorter terms for criminals because the county jails will run out of room to hold them all.
"Realignment should be repealed," he said. "It's stupid and it's going to hurt people."
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