Officials say parolees cycle back into criminal justice system

San Francisco's District Attorney said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is allowing the state’s parole department to struggle along without needed resources.

“I think the governor needs to step up and fund state parole so these prisoners can be adequately and appropriately supervised,” said Harris, who recently went to Sacramento to testify before the governor about the need for more parole support.

Harris said it’s also been frustrating to see those who have committed a crime released from jail, placed on parole and then cycle back into the criminal justice system.

In San Francisco, one-third of the 77 defendants charged with homicide were or are now on parole, according to the District Attorney’s Office. In a recent case, Anthony Theard, 24, charged with the death of his 5-month-old girl, was on parole at the time that his daughter’s body was found in a city park.

Several bad budget seasons for San Francisco’s Adult Probation Department have resulted in a drop of staff, confirmed Arturo Faro, the department’s interim chief. In 2004,the department had 126 staff members; it now has 101 staff members. The department oversees 8,500 parolees, and the average caseload per officer is 295 clients.

“That’s how drastic things have become here,” Faro said. “We’ve become more reactive than proactive because of that.”

A supplemental appropriation for the department, now before the Board of Supervisors, would add three additional positions, Faro added.

Getting more support to parole officers would be one step in the right direction, San Francisco police Capt. Kevin Cashman said, but there are other agencies within the criminal justice system that also need to step up their efforts, he said. According to department statistics, most of San Francisco’s homicide victims this year had numerous felony arrests.

“The Police Department is doing more than its fair share with its incredible number of arrests,” said Cashman, who said lenient sentencing and a substandard rehabilitation system have resulted in too many people leaving the criminal justice system only to go back to doing crime — and getting rearrested.

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