LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Los Angeles County Probation

Policy Trumps Politics as LA County Sups Give Probation the Nod for Parolees

At Tuesday’s meeting, the LA County Supervisors wisely put aside personal feelings
and worries about political ramifications and made the correct and rational choice—even if the circumstances were not ideal—when they finally voted to designate Probation as the lead agency in monitoring the group of parolees who will begin to be funneled to California counties for oversight beginning on October 1.

There were tense and fractious moments during the meeting. Supervisor Gloria Molina hectored Probation Chief Donald Blevins at length about making sure that a detailed plan for the oversight of the parolees got drafted by mid August.

The Sheriff got out of sorts and accused Blevins of not adequately power sharing, and then harrumphed that, as an elected official, he understood the BOS’s concerns better than anyone at Probation.

But in the end the Sups tuned out the interference (even their own) and did the right thing. They are to be strongly commended for doing so.

A rough transcript of the relevant parts of the meeting may be found here. {Baca’s comments start on p. 79. Molina is just above him.]

And here’s a more detailed account of the ups and downs of the discussion by Robert Jablon of the AP.

Also, the LA Times Robert Faturechi perfectly captures the spirit and context of Sheriff Baca’s unhappy speech at the meeting in his story on Tuesday’s decision..

Here’s a clip:

Baca accused Probation Chief Don Blevins of viewing the sheriff’s department “as some sort of threat” even after Baca had backed down in his bid to take sole responsibility for supervising of hundreds of state parolees who will soon be passed from state custody to the county.

Baca’s initial proposal was an unprecedented attempt to take the task from county probation officers, who already do that sort of work. No law enforcement agency in the nation handles parole or probation supervision, a task decidedly more oriented toward social work.

But after months of lobbying for the responsibility — and the funding that comes with it — Baca suddenly endorsed a hybrid plan this month that would leave his deputies out of rehabilitation casework. Despite that, sheriff’s officials said they believed Blevins was attempting to further diminish the role of the sheriff’s department.

On Tuesday, the L.A.County Board of Supervisors voted to make the Probation Department the lead agency in parolee supervision, with the hopes that the sheriff’s department will offer support, particularly for higher level offenders. However, the details of the plan are still being worked out in a special committee of county officials that includes Baca and Blevins.

“I offered to eliminate any sense of competition,” Baca said. “I was willing to say to the chief probation officer ‘You go ahead and run the whole program.’ ”

But Baca, visibly irritated, said Blevins had built a “moat around his department.” Baca said that with that kind of attitude Blevins could be “an unreliable partner” in any eventual hybrid arrangement for parolee supervision.

Next post we’ll go back to non-parolee-related topics, I promise.

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