Riverside County unveils plan to handle influx of state parolees

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An inmate at Chino State Prison speaks to a parole officer in the overcrowded dayroom of Sycamore Hall that was modified to house prisoners on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California.

California is shifting supervision of thousands of state parolees to local jurisdictions. Riverside County is rolling out its plan to deal with the uptick of ex-cons.

The state corrections realignment plan involves shifting oversight of “non-violent” parolees to counties.

Riverside County leaders welcome the change. “We have an opportunity to do a better job," says County Supervisor John Benoit.

“I’ve toured some of the state prisons and when you see the people being warehoused in the cafeteria and what used to be vocational training facilities and there’s none of that going on, I think there’s a good potential," says Benoit.

“I truly believe that," says Riverside County probation officer Alan Crogan. Crogan says his department will work closely with mental health and Sheriff's Department officials to tighten parole oversight and create programs to help convicts reintegrate into society.

“We have ongoing meetings now with all parties," says Crogan, "and we intend to provide a three-component plan: supervision, treatment and custody.”

County leaders weren’t always so receptive to the idea. There were concerns about who would pay for the switchover.

Benoit was one of those initial skeptics. “Only because it was forced on the county without a guaranteed long-term funding mechanism, which is still lacking in the process.”

The state has pledged $23 million to help the county with the parole realignment. The first installment should arrive by October, around the same time about 200 “low-risk” state convicts will be paroled into the county.

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