The county’s Probation Department will supervise fewer convicts of a certain type at the same time the Sheriff’s Office will see more state prison inmates either placed in County Jail or monitored electronically. Those were two of the projections presented to the supervisors this week by Chief Probation Officer Beverly Taylor, who spoke at length about how Santa Barbara is faring as it goes into another fiscal year of AB 109, the state law implemented in 2011 that shifted responsibility for certain offenders from the state to the counties.
The law deals with two types of inmates. One group is nonviolent, nonserious, non-high-risk sex offenders who, upon being released from prison, are now under the purview of county probation departments rather than state parole officers. The second group involves nonviolent, nonserious non-sex offenders who now serve their sentences in jails rather than prisons; their time can also include mandatory supervision. Santa Barbara County presently monitors 310 individuals in the first category and expects to oversee 262 in June 2015. The second category currently includes 231 people, but that number will jump to 354.
Taylor mentioned $64 million in statewide cuts coming to AB 109 funding, but she said the county will supplement its $8.8 million chunk from the state with approximately $1.1 million in onetime funding leftover from previous years. The state’s reduction will mean one fewer deputy probation officer to monitor GPS inmates and thus a cap of 22 inmates eligible for that service. Even more so this year, the county wants to use its AB 109 money to connect inmates with reentry services (job training, housing, and MediCal) so that the inmates don’t end up back where they started. The county’s approach “has enabled us to stay well ahead of many other jurisdictions,” Taylor said, referring to how Santa Barbara has done better than other counties in taking advantage of split sentences and in the number of inmates who fail to report to probation soon after release.