Violent felons given unsupervised parole

May 27, 2011

Prison officials allowed 450 violent convicts to be placed on unsupervised parole last year prompted a sharp exchange between the department of corrections and the inspector general’s office, according to a California audit. [CaliforniaWatch]

A report released Wednesday by Inspector General Bruce Monfross blamed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for improperly evaluating 1,500 inmates using an automated risk-assessment program developed by researchers at UC Irvine. The inmates included 450 dangerous criminals who were mistakenly place on unsupervised – or non-revocable – parole, California Watch said.

The program to allow some parolees to forgo supervision by a state agent was created in 2009 as part of a broader effort to reduce the number of low-level offenders being returned to prison for technical violations as a cost saving measure.

Corrections officials, who are required to conduct more than 270,000 assessments each week, rely on computers rather than humans to determine safety risks posed by inmates and parolees. However, an investigation by the inspector general determined the department’s electronic assessments were wrong for 23.5 percent of the nearly 10,000 inmates considered for unsupervised parole during a six-month period last year.

“It is therefore probable that some of the discharged parolees inappropriately placed on non-revocable parole would have violated their parole conditions and returned to prison, had they been on supervised parole,” the report states.

Department of corrections officials strongly rebuked the findings.

“Our concern with this report goes beyond its relevancy; in fact we must also take issue with its facts and central conclusion,” wrote Lee Seale, deputy chief of staff to corrections Secretary Matthew Cate, in a letter released Wednesday.

Seale said the release of the report was “unfortunate.” He complained the report relied on “obsolete” data, brushed aside improvements to the program and ignored other reforms carried out by the department – such as re-entry courts for parolees and updates to sentencing laws – that have “helped to successfully reduce the crowding rate in our prisons to the same level seen two decades ago.”

Seale defended the department’s cost saving use of computers to determine the risk posed by inmates by scanning the rap sheets of “more than 160,000 inmates in our prisons and more than 100,000 offenders on parole.”

In response, Monfross told California Watch that while he appreciated the department’s “desire” to save money, it “should not compromise public safety in doing so, as it does by understating offenders’ risk of re-offending and releasing high-risk offenders to unsupervised parole.”


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10 Comments

  1. willie says:

    It takes approximately $50,000 to house a convicted felon, yet I know law abiding people who survive on less than half that amount (after paying income tax).
    It takes about $600,000 to house a disable convicted felon, yet there are many law abiding seniors who cannot afford longterm inhouse care.
    One can’t help but to question, does it really requires $50,000 for each inmate and $600,000 for each disable inmate?
    Although you can justify anything, is that amount really needed or just wanted!
    Overcrowing, are they having prime rib every for dinner every nite?

    It seems that criminals are more precious a comodity than law abiding citizens.
    And when things slow down they buke citizens for CS infractions becaue revenues are needed or wanted.

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      While you have some good points, and I don’t doubt your numbers, there are far fewer incarcerated than law-abiding. Doesn’t change the fact that our society spends too much keeping convicts, but it’s not exactly and apples-to-apples comparison.

      We should probably try to limit the amounts of incarcerations by legalizing drugs – oh, I know, it’s a hot-button issue, and such, but legalize them like we legalized alcohol: with stipulations such as age, legal blood alcohol limits, etc.

      Most first-time prisoners are in non-violent offenses, but often after their time is up, they’re more prone to violence. Throwing money at it, as with education or anything else the government does, only exacerbates the problems.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • Cindy says:

        Once an individual has been incarcerated for a drug offense that record follows them and becomes a life long obstacle to gaining meaningful employment. The way our system works, we’re actually creating criminals for life. At the same time, potential employers have a right to know who they are hiring and it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are behind the charge. Drug offenses apart from only extreme cases where large quantities of drugs are manufactured (like meth) should not be prosecuted. I’m all for legalizing drugs, as Ron Paul pointed out, “if Heroin use was not a crime, how many of you would go out and start using it?” The answer is obvious and to those who do use it, they use it regardless of the law, the law is no deterrent to drug use. One only need look to the days of prohibition and the gang wars to learn that lesson.
        Prison should be for violent offenders and the rest need home detention with a short stint at hard time. We could correct this problem but as usual, it’s always about the money and those who would create high paying employment and massive budgets to draw from.
        American’s are so backwards, lazy and ignorant. It’s time for a third party.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Jack L says:

    The US Supreme count just ruled that 30K inmates in the CA system have to be released in the next two years due to overcrowding. They said it’s cruel and unusual punishment to house so many in such conditions.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • easymoney says:

      So why even bother arresting and prosecuting them if they are just going to be released.
      Time for everyone to get a CCP…

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. NorCoMod says:

    When our past and present governor’s explained to all of us that the obscenely high wage/benefit packages granted to the prison guard labor unions was so we could attract the brightest and best people for the job? And this is what we get?

    I don’t know anything about the corrections system but how can any system required to do 270,000 assessments a week do so without some sort of huge failure. Or is that requirement some sort of institutional crap that makes no sense anyway? The numbers themselves are staggering.

    If prisoners must be released how about those convicted of drug related offenses not related to violence?

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • LittleAcorn says:

      So out of the inmates who shouldn’t have gotten unsupervised parole, how many were documented as getting into trouble during their parole? It seems to me that it could be compared with the unsupervised parole records of the non-violent to see how much higher the incidence of problems was with the former group.

      I’m not advocating for continuing the mistake, but it would be useful to have some documentation to illustrate that it does represent a danger to society.

      Regarding unions, most top management workers don’t belong to the union in other industries. I don’t know how it is in the prison system, but blaming the union may have no relevance to the issue.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  4. San Simeon Frank says:

    Maybe it should be renamed the Department of Incorrections.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  5. Crusader says:

    Reason alone for Sheriff Parkinson to issue permits to otherwise qualifying individuals which would allow them to legally carry a concealed firearm.

    (11) 17 Total Votes - 14 up - 3 down
  6. willie says:

    Use of an automated risk-assessment program developed by researchers at UC Irvine should “only” be used as a guide.

    No system, no matter how scientific is fool proof.

    The acceptance is their CYA for doing it correctly “but but but” clever and keen criminals fell through the cracks.

    Henry Kissinger once said regarding the fail safe of neclear attack and counter attack: All nations with neclear launch capabilities need to develop a fail safe upon fail safe system that will make “impossible” for errors. This itself is impossible to warranty.

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down

Comments are closed.