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LAT: Baca Wants Sheriff's Dept, Not Probation Officers, To Handle Parolees

LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  In a move critics are describing as an unprecedented power grab, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal on Tuesday by Sheriff Lee Baca under which his department not probation officers would become responsible for parolees in the county.

Baca was in Gov. Jerry Brown's office with sheriffs and probation chiefs from across the state when he floated the idea, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The assumption has been that the thousands of parolees being passed from the state to the local level would be handled by county probation officers —  which will still hold true in all but one of 58 counties.

But the Times reported Baca wants to handle the parolees in Los Angeles County.

The proposal — which the paper calls unprecedented — would make the department the first law enforcement agency in the nation to handle parole or probation supervision, the Times reported.

Baca says his plan would allow offenders uninterrupted rehabilitation services, starting in his jails and continuing post-release. But his critics call it a power grab, The Times reported.

If Baca is successful, he'll likely get to use the anticipated state funding to add some 300 new employees at a time when hiring has gone dry, according to the newspaper.

"My feeling is there's a lot of money at stake here and he can put more law enforcement officers on the streets. I think that's his goal," L.A. County Probation Chief Don Blevins told The Times.

In the past, all parolees released from state prison who still required supervision were assigned to state parole agents. The transfer of thousands of nonviolent parolees to the counties is part of Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to shift state responsibilities to the local level.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is required to pick a lead agency — the Sheriff's or Probation department — by Aug. 1 and will be discussing that decision Tuesday.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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