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As Prisoner Exchange Begins, LA County Officials Predict Doom

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles County's top prosecutor is predicting doom and gloom with a prospect of thousands of convicted felons being diverted to the county's jail system rather than state prisons.

And amid such a move, Sheriff Lee Baca told us in an exclusive interview late Friday that he plans to launch his own personal investigation into an increased controversy about the use-of-force by sheriff's deputies in the jails.

Starting Saturday, Baca says he plans to talk directly with county jail inmates about the alleged beatings.

"I want to hear what the inmates have to say for themselves," he said.

Baca's urgent action highlights not only use-of-force issue, but the magnitude of the problem facing law enforcement in LA County.

District Attorney Steve Cooley says with thousands of new, convicted felons coming into the jail system and 8,000 or more nonviolent felons being released early on parole; it's a prescription for disaster.

"I'm also predicting in connection with that population, we're going to experience the greatest spike in crime of the last several decades," Cooley said.

Only Deputy Chief Probation Officer Reaver Bingham, whose department will have to keep track of the thousands of new parolees, is hopeful that with increased funding and smaller caseloads, things might not turn out as bad as predicted.

"If we do supervision correctly, we have seen the positive outcomes that we are projecting," Bingham said.

On Saturday, the first group of 45 nonviolent felony inmates already serving time will gain early release and will be allowed to head home to LA.

They'll be the first of nearly 9,000 inmates who will also be released over the next nine months.

» Transfer Of Non-Violent Inmates From CA Prisons To County Jails Set To Begin
» LA District Attorney Warns Of A 'Public Safety Nightmare' Over Inmate Transfers
» LAT: Baca Wants Sheriff's Dept, Not Probation Officers, To Handle Parolees

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