FAIRFIELD — Letting felons loose has made a mess of the state, Councilwoman Catherine Moy said Tuesday before the council unanimously supported legislation backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and responding to the 2011 state realignment that critics call an early release program for prisoners.
Mayor Harry Price will send a letter backing Assembly Bill 1449 that notes more than 100,000 offenders have been diverted from state prison to county supervision since realignment.
Councilman John Mraz said the state realignment allowed Gov. Jerry Brown to get out of trouble with the federal courts but let inmates loose without adequately tracking them.
“I get the picture and it’s pretty bleak,” Mraz said.
The 2011 realignment – which followed a federal court decision that California’s prisons were overcrowded – has led to overcrowding of local jails, council members said.
Dawn LaBar, administrative analyst for the city of Fairfield, said the population at the Solano County Jail has climbed from 770 to 970 since realignment.
The legislation that won city support includes a requirement of state prison time for any sentence longer than three years. The state Assembly bill comes after a Stanford University analysis identified problems with realignment legislation.
The university study found that the 2011 legislation means only the current conviction is considered when an inmate leaving prison is placed under county or state supervision, the city said. If an offender has a minor current crime but a history of prior violent convictions – including sex offenses – these offenders may report to county probation rather than state parole, according to a city staff report.
Along with requiring state prison for sentences of more than three years, the proposed legislation allows an offender’s total criminal history to be considered when considering whether the county or state will supervise the parolee, the city said.
A total of 626 former state prison inmates are now on post-release community supervision in Solano County, according to the city.
Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet told the council that the statewide association of chiefs, along with supporting the Assembly measure addressing realignment, is working with the governor to get more funds for local law enforcement.
“We’re the ones who have been left behind,” he said. “The support has not been there.”
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