California Parole Violators Get a Pass

by GREGORY D. LEE November 19, 2012

In an effort to relieve prison overcrowding, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced it planned to begin a review of more than 9,200 outstanding arrest warrants of parole violators to determine if pursuing these convicted felons would be in the "interest of justice."

It would be in the "interest of justice" to ensure that these paroled convicted felons are arrested and returned to prison because they violated the terms of their parole. Instead, the CDC will be weeding out "older, less urgent cases and allow a focus on dangerous parolees" according to the Associated Press based on a report from the Los Angeles Times.

No matter how it is spun, the bottom line is that upwards of 70 percent of these parole violators could essentially receive amnesty. This is another example of Gov. Jerry Brown's goal to empty the state's prisons in an effort to balance California's bloated budget deficit, at the expense of public safety. And, make no mistake about it, the public will be paying a price for this loony decision.

A parolee is someone who has been convicted of a felony and sent to state prison. For a variety of reasons, parole boards routinely grant parole to these felons under conditions that they get employment, not associate with known criminals, not take drugs or alcohol, not commit future crimes, and report their progress of assimilating into society to their parole officer. Unfortunately, almost without exception, these parolees continue where they left off in their criminal careers, and victimize many more individuals before being arrested again. Getting arrested automatically violates their parole and subjects them to completing their original sentence. The new crime must also be adjudicated exposing them to even more prison time.

Parolees have been known to murder police officers and citizens, rob people, commit burglaries, sell drugs and possess dangerous weapons, to name a few crimes they characteristically commit. Rodney King is probably the best known parolee. So why would a responsible governor, concerned about public safety, allow his CDC to ever consider instituting a policy to give these parolees a pass?

If the governor wants to let criminals out of prison to save money, why not release all the thousands of illegal aliens behind bars and allow the Department of Homeland Security to return them to Mexico? That would immediately ease prison overcrowding and save the state at least $106 million dollars. These prisoners can spend the balance of their time in a Mexican jail, or roam the streets of Mexican cities for all I care. Either way, they would no longer be the responsibility of the State of California.

If even more money is needed to expand prison capacities to house dangerous parole violators, stop educating illegal aliens. The best cost estimate to educate illegal alien children in K - 12 grades is roughly $4 billion dollars. That alone represents a significant percentage of California's current deficit. The money would much be better spent on public safety. Of course, that will never happen in this sanctuary state.

California's problem is that its priority of expenditures is totally skewed. It pays for things is shouldn't, and doesn't spend enough money on important matters such as education and public safety.

Proposition 36 recently passed, placing restrictions on when prosecutors can file charges on twice convicted felons that would normally have led three strikers to a 25 year to life in prison sentence. Facing that sentence enticed the vast majority of these two strikers to plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid severe sentences. Now, many more of them will elect to go to trial, having nothing to lose, costing even more tax money.   

State government's first responsibility should be public safety. Allowing parolees to assimilate back into the general population without any strings attached will most certainly increase crime, diminish people's quality of life, and sadly cause many people to lose their lives.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Gregory D. Lee is a retired Supervisory Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the author of three criminal justice textbooks. While on DEA diplomatic assignment in Pakistan, he was involved in the investigation of several notable terrorism events and arrests. He recently retired after more than 39 years of active and reserve service from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Chief Warrant Officer Five Special Agent for the Criminal Investigation Division Command, better known as CID. In 2011 he completed a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan while on special assignment to the Special Operations Command Europe. Visit his website at and contact him at

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