San Diego County authorities using new tool to track prisoners after release

System notifies probation officers upon release

SAN DIEGO - San Diego County authorities are using a new high-tech tool to track prisoners as they leave prison.

The county was the first in the state to test an electronic system that sends prisoner information directly to probation officers, letting them know when a prisoner is being released.

On average, 130 inmates who have finished their sentences are released back to the county every month.

"They are individuals whose most recent offense was a non-serious or a non-violent felony," said San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins.

The county used to get 30- to 60-day notices that left probation officers know about upcoming releases, but recently, that warning period has shrunk. In some cases, it has shortened to one-day notices.

That happens in San Diego County with an average of 14 prisoners each month.

"Most of the individuals here are reporting as they're told to; it's just when we have a shorter notice, it's harder for us to begin supervision," said Jenkins.

The reason is California's Public Safety Realignment Program, which started in October 2011 after a federal court ordered a reduction to the state's prison population.

Last April, a prisoner was released in Los Angeles County and did not report to the probation office. The prisoner is now accused of killing a woman in Hollywood.  

County officials are leading the way in trying to prevent that from happening in San Diego. The county tested a new system that sends a prisoner's file electronically to the probation offices. The rest of the state followed this week.

"It doesn't guarantee that there still might not be inmates who are released with a days notice," said Jenkins.

San Diego County has also started a program this year unlike any other in the state called the Community Transition Center.

"We actually don't rely on the inmate coming to us; we actually go and get them," said Jenkins.

Prisoners go through an assessment process, Jenkins said, "To see what their needs are, and use that to try and engage them in services that they will need as we supervise them in the community."


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