The Sac Bee reports:
[Newly formed law enforcement teams] are designed to apprehend parolees who have become fugitives or are otherwise violating terms of their release.
"We're going to look over the fences. We don't want another Garrido," Greg Shuman, who supervises a Sacramento-based California Parole Apprehension Team, told agents heading out for one sweep. "It's no-tolerance. Anything, any violation, they're going to jail."
Five teams were created this year in different parts of California, while five more will start in January.
Money to fund them comes from savings created by a law that took effect this year. That law eliminated parole supervision for thousands of ex-convicts, some of whom served time for serious crimes.
It allows agents to focus on the parolees that state corrections officials consider the greatest risk to the public. Supervising fewer people lets agents concentrate their attention on sex offenders, gang members and violent criminals, said Robert Ambroselli, who heads the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's adult parole division.
The move to use budget savings from early release to target high-risk offenders is, of course, a sensible one. But are these folks high-risk offenders? The article mentions that 480 out of the 900 parole violators who have been arrested recently are sex offenders, which, according to CDCR's own recidivism report, are the lowest risk group among released inmates. That is, if one does not count parole violations. Whether any risk has been prevented by a registered sex offender's arrest would depend on whether the parole violation that led to the arrest is, indeed, a crime in its own right, or some technical violation.
This surge in law enforcement energy might explain the following curious story that appeared this week in the San Jose Mercury News:
Lawrence Joseph Brown, 52, was taken back into custody in Tustin just 30 miles from the California Institution for Men in Chino.
"We had investigators following him, and he was in a car with a woman," a violation of a stipulation of his parole, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
The woman was Ruby Huggler, a woman Brown had stayed with during a brief parole earlier this year, and Rackauckas said he believed she picked him up from the prison.
This week I showed my students Fritz Lang's 1931 masterpiece M. In one of the movie's best scenes, Lorre, a child murderer and sex offender, is apprehended by the mafia, and "tried" by a kangaroo court trying to decide whether to execute him or hand him over to official law enforcement. His speech, and their reactions to it, is truly fascinating, and goes to the heart of the question here--do we believe that these offenses come from evil, or from disease, or both. Our persecution of released sex offenders seems to suggest the latter; we rearrest them because we are concerned about compulsion. A student of mine once called this unique perception of guilt "culpable sickness". Feeding our fears of the unknown and unexplainable is important, but it is more important to deal with actual recidivism than with imagined and feared recidivism. I hope we are, indeed, preventing dangerous and risky reoffending by directing our energy toward these released offenders, rather than merely substituting one form of oppressive and wasteful enforcement with another.