While fewer juveniles entered or re-entered the criminal probation system in San Luis Obispo County in the last three years, the number of adults supervised by the county Probation Department increased, according to a new report.
Officials attribute much of the increased adult caseload to state prison realignment in 2011, which requires local supervision of people who previously would have been supervised by the state, Chief Probation Officer Jim Salio said Thursday.
“The whole landscape has changed,” he said.
In its first-ever annual statistical report analyzing Juvenile Services, Juvenile Hall and Adult Services for the previous fiscal year, the county Probation Department also tracked data from July 2011 to show the local effects of realignment.
The report analyzed two populations of adults on probation: Adults on traditional formal probation and those on post-release supervision, a new category of probationer since realignment.
That latter category includes prison inmates convicted prior to 2011 of nonviolent, nonserious or non-high-risk sex crimes who were assigned to local supervision after being released. The category also includes post-realignment prisoners convicted of lower level crimes who served their prison sentence in County Jail and were then placed on mandatory local probation following release.
Prior to realignment, those post-release probationers would have served sentences in state prison and been released into the supervision of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Since realignment, the county has been required to supervise dozens of released prison inmates, peaking at 159 people in December 2012 and falling to 135 people in June 2014.
The number of people sentenced after the 2011 realignment to prison terms in County Jail and then assigned to local probation supervision upon release rose steadily to 40 in June 2014.
In other words, county probation officers were responsible in June 2014 for supervising a total of 175 people who previously would have been handled by the state.
Between July 2011 and June 30, 2014, about 33 percent of post-release offenders — those who fall under prison realignment — had committed a new crime while on probation. That compares with 41 percent of adult felony probationers in the same period.
But the goal behind realignment — trimming state prison populations — may also be contributing to the increase in adults on traditional probation, Salio said.
Salio said a growing reluctance by prosecutors and judges to seek and sentence offenders to jail and prison time — in favor of probation — has caused those caseloads to spike.
The Probation Department found that the number of adults on traditional probation increased 8.3 percent from 2,086 on July 1, 2011, to 2,260 people on June 30, 2014.
The report also contains data on who is coming into the system as an adult and for what offense. In 2013-14, the average age of adult offenders was 33.5 years old and 75 percent were male. About 34 percent of probation cases came from the North County and just over 25 percent came from the South County.
Of the adults on formal probation as of June 30, 2014, about 42 percent were convicted of crimes against people, such as assault and robbery. Drugs and alcohol violations accounted for nearly 36 percent of probationers, followed by property crimes at 19 percent and weapons violations at 2 percent.
Promisingly, the number of minors booked into Juvenile Hall steadily decreased from 633 in the 2011-12 fiscal year to 520 in 2013-14.
Likewise, the number of juveniles referred to probation decreased from 316 in 2011-12 to 284 as of June 30, 2014, according to the report.
The average age of juveniles on probation last year was 15.4 years old.
Fewer minors are recidivating, as well. The report states that fewer juveniles on court-ordered supervision committed new crimes while on probation last year than three years ago — less than 22 percent in 2013-14 compared to more than 25 percent in 2011-12.
Salio believed that with shrinking juvenile caseloads, group counseling and treatment programs have been better able to focus on individuals, which may reflect the lower number of second-time offenders.
The Probation Department was staffed by 105 juvenile and adult probation officers in the 2013-14 fiscal year and operated on a roughly $19.2 million budget.
Salio said the report was drafted to give the public an idea of what how much the unprecedented prison realignment has required.
“The report is important because we needed to establish a baseline, where we know where we stand with realignment and can (plan) benchmarks that are meaningful,” Salio said. Future data, he said, will tell the county what is working and what can be improved.
The full report can be found online at goo.gl/5s4Kde.