The San Bernardino County Grand Juror's Association was presented its new charter during its quarterly meeting on Monday, and is now a member of the state Grand Juror's Association.
The California Grand Juror's Association, composed of 25 chapters statewide that now includes San Bernardino County, works to improve the training and resources available to the state's 58 civil grand juries and to educate the public about the role grand juries serve.
"In year's past a lot of legislatures had wanted to diminish the power of the grand jury, but California is one of the few states that still has the civil grand jury" said Burrel Woodring, president of the San Bernardino County Grand Jury Association, during Monday's meeting at the Shandin Hills Golf Club. "Our job is to preserve that, and we can preserve that by joining with other grand jury association in the state organization."
Larry Walker, director of the California Grand Juror's Association's Southern California chapter and who is of no relation to San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Larry Walker, said the county Grand Juror's Association will be better served now.
"Having members at the county level helps the state conduct their mission," Walker said. "They have direct access to the committees and anything else going on with the state, and they'll get a better response.
Guest speaker Ron Cochran, a deputy chief for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, informed Association members on what his department has been doing to address jail overcrowding and the influx of prisoners being released due to AB109 - the state prison realignment plan which took effect in October 2011.
Cochran said the county jails, which are under the Sheriff's Department's oversight, have been releasing an average of 150 inmates a month under AB109, which shifted oversight of non-violent parolees from the state to county probations departments.
Since AB109 took effect in October 2011 4,000 inmates have been released from county jails, Cochran said.
"It's problematic for us," Cochran said.
He said legislation is being introduced that proposes to expand training and education programs for parolees in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and encourage them to become productive members of society.