Grand Jury Report Scrutinizes AB-109 Probation/Parole Impact
6/20/14 – Previous warnings by Banning City Council members Jerry Westholder and Don Peterson about the new AB-109 Probation/Parole system seem to find confirmation in a new report by the Riverside County Grand Jury.
In a newly released report, the Grand Jury details the unprecedented impact the new system will have on the communities of Riverside County (view report). Probation as well as Parole are now both administered by the County (for reference, previous warnings by Council members Jerry Westholder and Don Peterson can be found here and here).
The Grand Jury Report states that under AB-109, “many prisoners who were released on parole had their parole overseen by the county’s PRCS probation department, instead of the state parole agency.“ (see page 1 of the report)
Based on the size of the old Banning Probation department alone, the City’s current impact is among the six highest in Riverside County, according to the report. Compared to the share of its population in Riverside County, the Grand Jury makes it clear that Banning already services a supervised population at a roughly 50 % higher rate than the County average :
Again, this chart shows the impact on Banning based on the existing Probation Department. What will it be when their operations quadruple as planned ?
The Grand Jury further takes issue with the lack of available housing for parolees. They point out that, in the majority of cases, early released probationers have no place to live.
The Grand Jury therefore concludes that a large number of additional half-way houses are needed, in order to satisfy the demand for parolee housing. County agencies should assure sufficient availability of such housing.
EARLY WARNINGS DISMISSED AS “SCARE TACTICS”
As late as March of 2014, Sun Lakes Board President George Moyer dismissed early warnings by Council members Westholder and Peterson as “half-truths” and “scare tactics”.
In a letter to the editor of the Record Gazette of March 21 (view), Moyer went on to accuse these Council members of holding “personal grudges”, that were being deployed because they had an “agenda” to move the City “backward”.
In light of the latest Grand Jury report, it appears that Mr. Moyer did not do his homework on AB-109. As it turns out, Westholder and Peterson were right on the money.
As a matter of fact, the Grand Jury’s concerns go even further than what both Council members had predicted.
CONDESCENDING SPEAKER LABELS CRITICS AS “CONFUSED”
It appears that it is mostly Sun Lakes residents, that have falsely assessed the effect of an AB-109 Probation/Parole operation on Banning.
Other than George Moyer, one of the most ignorant and uninformed voices in this debate came from Sun Lakes resident Mary Hamlin. Originally, Hamlin was one of six candidates who applied for appointment to the City Council in 2013, after Councilman Bob Botts had resigned.
Expressing her “excitement” about the Probation office moving into the Paseo San Gorgonio project, Hamlin went as far as to label “the general population” (those living outside of Sun Lakes?) as “confused” and not knowing the difference between jail and prison. Please watch her statements :
Who does Ms. Hamlin think she is, to belittle the citizens of Banning in this manner ? Does it get more condescending than this ?
In addition, Hamlin has all of her facts wrong. She falsely implies that Probation is different from Parole. No Ms. Hamlin, it no longer is ! – One of the core dangers of the AB-109 concept is that the Counties are forced to merge the two. Probation is no longer what it once was. It is painfully obvious that Mary Hamlin did not do her homework on AB-109.
Hamlin’s false statements may likely be a result of her – equally false – sense of security, arising from the wall that surrounds her gated community. However, in light of the latest Grand Jury report, she and many other Sun Lakes residents may be in for a rude awakening in the not too distant future.
Council members Westholder and Peterson ought to be commended for their foresight and vision on the impact of AB-109. Previously dismissed as “scare tactics”, their dire warnings now appear to have been validated by the latest Grand Jury report.
After receiving its recent go-ahead from the Council, there can be no doubt that the new Probation Department will change downtown Banning forever.
A strategic mistake may have been made, when the previous Council (Franklin, Robinson, Hanna, Botts, Machisic ) solicited the new Criminal Court house to locate in Banning. Not only did this cost the Banning taxpayer an additional $ 2 million in land subsidies (losses), it also turned Banning into a judicial hub serving criminals, now resulting in the need for more half-way houses to be built for its clientele.
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