State proposal to release parolees into county spooks leaders

As many as 1,000 parolees from state prisons would come to live in San Mateo County under a new proposal that would make ex-cons the responsibility of county officers.

The county has “intervened” in a federal court case to determine whether California can release as large a number of prisoners as it requested several months ago, said Chief Deputy County Counsel Penny Barrett. The trial is set to begin Nov. 17.

Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress said Wednesday a mass release of prisoners would be disastrous but the county “could do a good job” with providing parolee supervision for 1,000 ex-cons if the state were to compensate it to the tune of $20 million.

An investigation by the County Manager’s Office concluded that of the 50,000-71,000 parolees the state will need supervision for, the county could provide services to 1,000 in exchange for $20 million for departments such as probation, health and human resources, Buddress said. The money would include funding for about 22 new probation officers at about $7.6 million and would not have an impact on the existing probation department, he said.

Supervisor Jerry Hill said the proposal to take in new parolees is worrisome.

“Based on the historic recidivism rate of inmates coming out of the state prison system … there’s 600 crimes waiting to occur, and that’s if they get caught on the first one,” Hill said. “There definitely will be an increase in crime and that troubles me.”

The county currently has one supervisor overseeing roughly 60-70 adults on probation but has typically assigned its prison parolees to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Buddress said. Under this proposal, the county would provide services for the parolees — using state money — such as housing options, education, job resources and substance-abuse treatment, he said.

“Generally, we want people returned to [San Mateo County] who have history of living here in the county,” Buddress said. He said the parolees typically live in the county where they are being supervised.

In his disposition, Buddress said he wanted the panel to be aware of a controlled study conducted by Dr. Barry Krisberg that indicated releasing prisoners within two to six months of their scheduled date did not affect recidivism rates. He added that San Mateo County parolees have a 60 percent to 85 percent success rate of not violating probation, compared to 30 percent to 40 percent statewide.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

County parolees

1,000 Maximum number of parolees that would be under county’s supervision

0 Current number of state parolees under county’s supervision

$20 million Money county seeks from the state for the supervision

50,000-71,000 Parolees the state would release under plan

60-70 Typical number of local probationers under supervision of county

15% to 40% County parolees who are arrested while on probation

60% to 70% State parolees who are arrested while on probation

Source: San Mateo County Probation Department, County Counsel’s Office

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