In southeastern San Diego, the coming influx of parolees has raised minor alarm among some residents and business owners.
Keith Bryant, a resident who was waiting for the trolley near Market Creek Plaza one day last week, said retailers he knows are concerned about increased potential for crime against their businesses. Detria Nelson, who was studying at the local Starbucks, said she expects an increase in local crime because of the lack of services available to receive returning parolees.
It’s a natural concern, said Jim Sanders, who directs the Jacobs Foundation’s program for returning prisoners. But it’s one made worse by “some individuals who have been going around spreading fear.”
A new law will reduce the state prison population by thousands of inmates in the coming years. But many residents, he said, don’t know who those parolees will be, and so they’re afraid.
Even service providers are still trying to get a handle on whom exactly the state plans to release under its new program. That’s why they are having difficulty preparing to serve those parolees.
What is known is that most of the parolees set to be released under what is known as non-revocable parole are serving time for drug offenses, not violent crime.
Anita Paredes, who directs the Community Connection Resource Center, a nonprofit that serves returning prisoners, said national research has found that early release prisoners do not have a higher rate of recidivism than full term prisoners. As long, she said, as corrections departments focuses on non-violent offenders.
That’s what the California Department of Corrections is doing, she said.
“If you and whoever would let the community be aware, and educate them about the parole releases,” Sanders said, “there would be less tension about that.”
— ADRIAN FLORIDO