Baca backs away from plan to have deputies supervise parolees
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has backed down in his bid for the department to take on sole supervision of state parolees, an official confirmed Thursday evening, opting instead for a hybrid plan that would leave his deputies out of rehabilitation.
Baca’s initial proposal was an unprecedented attempt to handle the thousands of parolees being passed from the state to the local level instead of the county’s probation officers, who already do that sort of work.
No law enforcement agency in the nation, officials say, handles parole or probation supervision, a task decidedly more oriented toward social work.
Critics blasted Baca's plan, saying that it presented potential conflicts of interest because the same deputies who were arresting and jailing criminals would have also been serving as caseworkers after the inmates were released.
Assistant Sheriff Cecil Rhambo said Baca decided to allow the county’s Probation Department to handle reentry and case management, while sheriff’s deputies and possibly LAPD officers do traditional suppression work and compliance checks.
“I don’t know that it was a back-down,” Rhambo said. “At the executive meeting today, listening to all the nuts and bolts as to what it takes to manage this, as people were throwing out the labor-intensity of it all, [Baca] thought what might work better is a hybrid version.”
That type of plan would still have to be presented by a committee of county officials and approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Rhambo said the department would still be conducting education programs within county jails and offering some offenders rehabilitation programs in lieu of traditional incarceration.
Winning sole responsibility of the state parolees being passed down by year’s end would have allowed Baca to, in time, hire about 300 new employees during a time when hiring has stopped.
-- Robert Faturechi
Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca Credit: Mel Melcon/ Los Angeles Times