GPS company left convicts unsupervised

A GPS company hired by the county’s Probation Department to keep an eye on about 300 convicts left more than a dozen of them unsupervised days, sometimes weeks.

It seems many of the probationers using the devices had no idea they were not functioning properly. But when they checked in with their probation officers, officials found several of the devices had stopped sending signals of their location.

The GPS devices are supposed to send the company, Sentinel Offender Services, a signal every 60 seconds telling them where the probationers are. Instead, some of the devices didn’t send a signal for days. Some where found to have stopped sending coordinates for nearly a month.

But it wasn’t just GPS devices that failed.

In one instance, a convict required to take an alcohol-content breath test at his home failed it more than 80 times, but the company never told officials in the Probation Department.

Officials are already working to transition about 300 convicts to another company, but it has raised serious concerns with elected and law enforcement officials.

With a rising population in county jails, local officials across the state are relying more and more on GPS devices and private companies to keep an eye on probationers. Continue reading “GPS company left convicts unsupervised”


Less beds for female inmates


California county jails are seeing the impact of the state’s realignment plan through its jail doors – more men and women are walking through them.

The largest impact has, of course, been men.

The plan has sent several convicts that would have ended up in state prison – or under the auspices of parole officers – to county jails and probation officers. Nearly 90 percent of the added load has been men.

Yet Orange County’s women’s jails have also been severely affected. Sections of the county’s jails that could be used for women are being used to house the increase of men being arrested for new charges, probation violations, or flash incarcerations – 10-day stints used for those not abiding by the terms of their release. Continue reading “Less beds for female inmates”

Grab the big picture, break it into pieces

As journalists, we’re often trying to provide readers with the big picture, but the small pieces of the mosaic can sometimes be just as important.

It goes something like, “Here is an example of this issue, now let me explain to you how it fits into the greater scheme of things.”

But the big picture can at times be blinding. So, when there are drastic changes approaching in the California prison system, how can we as journalists explain to readers the true impact these changes will carry?

It’s in the details, of course.

What my colleague, Sean Emery, and I wanted to do was break down on a smaller, detailed level what the realignment process meant to each and every resident – in their pocket and their neighborhood. Most people don’t come into contact with the prison or justice system, and the idea of “realigning” the responsibility from the state department of corrections to county agencies seems distant. After all, what does it matter where the criminals are, as long as it’s not near me?

In visiting the issue, we broke the topic down into three pieces to explain it effectively to readers: what will this mean in your county courthouse, in your county jail, and to probation offices. Intermingled with these topics are other essential questions that must be answered including, who will pay for the changes, who is in charge of these major changes, and what impact will it have to culture in our streets and our jails?

Our three part series included:

Part 1: State to begin sending inmates to O.C.

Part 2: State inmates could fill, change O.C. jails

Part 3: O.C. probation officials prepare for released prisoners

We also built an interactive timeline to better explain how the process, and plan, came to fruition.

Large portion of the prison system is rehabilitation, and whether career criminals are behind bars or on parolee can bring drastic changes to our neighborhoods – even for those who will never see the inside of a jail cell.

Realignment will bring drastic changes to the way the state’s prison system is run. The big picture is this: what state officials have done for years is now the responsibility of county agencies, including housing, monitoring and rehabilitation.

To truly understand the impact of these changes, I believe, you must understand how things will be done differently, the amount of money that will go into these changes and what it will mean on a day to day basis. Otherwise, the true meaning of the big picture can be lost.

Despite ruling, O.C. to continue releasing inmates


The Orange County Register

Published Feb. 10, 2010

A Sacramento judge today halted the early release of inmates from county jails there.

The judge ruled that a law passed by the state legislature applies only to inmates in state prisons, not county facilities.


Orange County jail


Officials at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, however, said they plan to continue releasing county inmates early despite the Sacramento decision.

In the ruling made today, Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster granted a temporary restraining order to halt the releases and set a hearing date on a preliminary injunction for March 3.

“Releasing inmates early by the application of a law intended only for those in the state prison population at the same time that deputies in the field are being substantially reduced is a formula for disaster,” McMaster said.

Since the law went into effect on Jan. 25, hundreds of inmates have been released from counties across the state.

O.C. is among the counties that had decided that the state law…(To read more, click here.)

Deputies suing to stop early inmate release


The Orange County Register

Published Feb. 16, 2010

The union that represents sheriff’s deputies filed a lawsuit Tuesday to stop the early release of inmates from Orange County jails, the second lawsuit in the state aimed at stopping local releases under a new law.

The union’s lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, is modeled after one filed in Sacramento County. Last week, a judge there issued a temporary restraining order halting the release of the inmates under the new state law.


Orange County inmates


The union leadership – which represents about 1,800 deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department – is hoping for a similar result here.

More than 1,500 county inmates have been reported to have been released statewide under the new guidelines, including 401 inmates from Orange County jails. Most of those inmates were released by counties that interpreted the law to mean that inmates could earn time off their sentences retroactively – resulting in the early release of some inmates on the day the law took effect.

On Tuesday afternoon, the state’s attorney general issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies, stating that the new law should not be applied retroactively. The bulletin rang hollow for several sheriff’s departments in the state that have already released hundreds of inmates using a retroactive formula.

“The whole thing is extremely frustrating,” said Ryan Burris, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’ s Department, who along with the District Attorney’s office…(Read more, click here.)