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New law could land more offenders on city streets

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn said he is concerned about property crime increasing in Roseville as a result of new laws which could put more non-violent drug offenders on city streets. California Assembly Bill 109, which addresses state prison overcrowding, passed in May 2011, shifting the responsibility for incarceration of convicted felons from the state to local and county jurisdictions. The “2011 Public Safety Realignment” law began statewide implementation on Oct. 1 and specifies that only individuals convicted of crimes categorized as “serious, violent or sex offenses” may be sentenced to state prison. Hahn said that as a result of the new law, people who would normally be placed in prison for non-violent drug and other offenses are now housed in county jails, and parolees, who would otherwise be supervised by the state, are now under local jurisdictions. One of the outcomes, Hahn said, is that it is likely people who are arrested for non-violent drug offenses will be released back into the community because of overcrowding at the Placer County Jail. “Drugs drive property crime,” Hahn said. “We have to consciously do something about property crime in Roseville, and I think that other cities probably feel the same way.” Hahn has been working in partnership with police chiefs from surrounding communities expressing his concerns, and did so last week to the Roseville City Council. As a result, the Community Corrections Partnership was formed to draft a plan on how to use allocated state funds to address the issue. The advisory committee includes representatives from the Board of Supervisors, Probation, the District Attorney’s office, Public Defender, Sheriff’s office, Health and Human Services and County Executive office. It also has representatives from the Placer County Superior Court, Placer County Office of Education, local police agencies, community-based organizations and crime victims. That plan, called the 2011 Placer County Public Safety Realignment Implementation Plan, was presented to the Placer County Board of Supervisors and approved Tuesday. Through AB109, Placer County has been allocated $3.1 million in funding through the conclusion of fiscal 2012, and it is anticipated that the state will fund an additional $3.9 million for fiscal 2013. Hahn said part of the plan is to use the allocated funds to hire additional officers who will be assigned to a special task force and assist the county Probation Department in supervising offenders. The Placer County Sheriff’s Department component of the plan includes the ability to increase staffing in the first year of implementation by as many as 21 — up to 10 sworn and 11 non-sworn positions — according to the report presented to Placer supervisors. Additional funding is to be allocated to the Placer County District Attorney, Health and Human Services and the Public Defender’s office. Hahn said the plan will begin to take place once new personnel are hired, trained and assigned to their respective teams. “Our commitment is that the crime rate won’t go up,” Hahn said. “Ideally, the long term is that we figure out successful ways to rehabilitate people so that they don’t try to reoffend.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.