Gang monitoring suffers due to budget cuts

June 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gang violence is the topic of debate, and the worry, in Sacramento on Friday. The ongoing budget crisis means that law enforcement is making cuts that many are afraid will translate directly into crime on the streets.

In a home invasion robbery in Rancho Cordova last week, a homeowner and two criminals engaged in a gun battle that resulted in some serious injuries for all.

The crime highlights the fear many Californians have with the state's budget cuts to public safety: more crime.

Over the last few months, the Department of Corrections has been cutting off GPS tracking devices off half of the 950 gang members on parole as a way to save $6 million by July 1.

"We can cut on the side of the gang monitors, but we cannot cut on the sex offender monitoring because that is required by law," said Luis Patino with the California Corrections Department. "We are doing what we can within the confines of the rules, the laws and the budget we have left."

One of the primary suspects in the Rancho Cordova incident is Lawrence "Poopie" Jackio, who local investigators believe had his GPS anklet removed just one day before the shooting. Up until then, the corrections department said he seemed to be following the terms of his parole.

Residents living near the shooting are upset over the latest cost-cutting move, with one saying more cuts equal more crime.

"The first thing he did (thought) was, okay, what can I do to get into more trouble?" said concerned resident James Lindley. "What did he do? He robbed someone's house, got shot."

The budget cuts have resident Kassandra Smith worried.

"it's very nerve-wracking to know they're just letting people run the streets," Smith said.

Corrections say there's no way to know how Jackio would have behaved had the GPS monitor stayed. On a risk scale of one to four, with one being the lowest, Jackio was given a two. Jackio also had a job and a steady residence established, which is a rarity among parolees.

"Nothing outside of keeping someone in prison is fail-safe for keeping them from committing another crime," Patino said.

Crime victim groups worry the budget cuts are just the beginning of more gang-involved incidents.

"We should be outraged that our safety is going to be jeopardized because the state needs to save a buck," said Christine Ward with Crime Victims Action Alliance.

Democrats say they want to keep the temporary tax hikes going to avoid more cuts to public safety, while Republicans say they want cuts to come from somewhere else to keep public safety funded.


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