CARLSBAD — Carlsbad city council members listened to a special presentation given by Mack Jenkins from the County Probation Department and Carlsbad Police Chief Gary Morrison on Feb. 14. The talk highlighted Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109), also known as the Public Safety Realignment, which impacts changes to the criminal justice system from a state to county level.Since October, AB 109 holds local jurisdictions, such as the City of Carlsbad, responsible for the permanent shift of offenders.
“We are now five months into this shift of responsibilities,” said Jenkins, San Diego County chief probation officer. Jenkins, who has been a probation officer for 33 years, calls AB 109 the most significant change in California’s criminal justice system.
Jenkins was quick to point out that AB 109 in no way transfers prison inmates to local jurisdictions.
When AB109 was signed, there were 93,000 active parolees in California. Jenkins said by the time realignment is fully implemented there will be 40,000 which will cause a statewide shift of 53,000 parolees to local jurisdiction.
The three populations affected by AB 109 are post-release offenders, formerly called parolees, local custody for non-violent, non-serious, and non-high risk sex offenders, and court revocations for post-release offenders and parolees.
The non-violent, non-serious, and non high-risk sex offenders, also known as “N3s,” will now be housed and managed at the county’s jails.
“This is part of the effort to reduce the prison population,” he said. San Diego County is expected to receive 2,000 post-release offenders and 2,000 N3s offenders.
The realignment goals for San Diego County include using jail capacity efficiently, and at some point prior to an offender release, to have the individual undergo a “re-entry into community program” to reduce the chance of recidivism.
When recidivism rates are reduced, Jenkins said, so are the crime rates.
“As part of our realignment plan, Chief Morrison has made an offer to allow me to house one or two of my probation officers in his police station and we are going to take him up on that offer,” Jenkins said. “So my probation officers will work closely with the chief’s police officers.”
Jenkins wants people to know that their probation supervision strategies may include announced or unannounced visits to homes, random drug testing, and in some cases, periodic searches. Probation services will also include substance abuse treatment, transitional housing, work readiness and cognitive behavioral treatment.
Currently, there are four post-release offenders living in Carlsbad. In Escondido there are 55; Oceanside has 41 and Vista has 69.
Jenkins said that before the release of any post-release offender is issued, their future resident address, supervision terms and probation officer contact information will be exchanged with Carlsbad Police. This will give Jenkins’ department a higher level of accountability.
Since AB 109 has gone into effect Morrison has not seen an increase in crime. Morrison said that networking and working with probation officers will be a positive one. “I think we are actually going to be, for the long-term, better off because, hopefully with this goal, it will lower the recidivism rate,” he added. “The probation department has also given us four names of individuals in our cities (post-release offenders) and we got those to our patrol officers so we are well aware of where those folks are at.”