From the President

March 18, 2013

2013 began with a strong start. We re-introduced our two bills from last year and introduced a new bill with regards to juvenile sex offenders. SB 199 is our Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) bill from last year. This bill would add a rank-and-file deputy probation officer (1), and a deputy sheriff or police officer (1) seat to each county’s CCP executive committee. Our second bill from last year, AB 1040, would require the arming of probation officers who supervise high-risk offenders. Some counties already perform armed supervision of high-risk offenders; while others do not or do so on a limited basis. What we’re trying to accomplish with this bill is to: 1) arm the last six plus counties in the state that currently are not armed, 2) expand arming to those counties that are in some way currently limited in designated armed positions, and 3) better equip officers for their safety and the safety of the communities they serve. Our last bill, AB 992, would clarify current law and close a loophole regarding serious juvenile sex offenders. AB 992 would require serious juvenile sex offenders to register as such consistent with the Sex Offender Registration Act.

Pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act, certain individuals convicted of sex crimes are required to register as “sex offenders.” Juvenile offenders were included in the Act, and are required to register so long as they are committed to the State to serve their sentence at the Division of Juvenile Facilities (formerly DJJ, and previously CYA). If a juvenile is sentenced to serve their time in a county facility, they are not required to register as a sex offender, no matter how serious the underlying offense. As a result of the state’s efforts at sending more responsibility back to the counties, for juveniles in the last several years and for adults more recently, fewer juvenile, serious sex offenders have registered as “sex offenders.” Specifically, this bill would require juvenile offenders who commit specified sex offenses in the Sex Offender Registration Act, to register as sex offenders. The bill would also apply to a juvenile sex offender who is on probation or parole in another state, transfers to this state for supervision, and was found to have committed a specified sex offense.

In addition to the introduction of our three bills, we have also made a concerted effort to fight for continued SB 678 (2009) funding. Without continued SB 678 funding, either at the same or near current levels, many probation departments throughout the state would lose funding for a number of positions. Funding cuts would be scheduled to take effect during this next fiscal year (2013-2014). This is an issue that sees rank-and-file and the chiefs fighting on the same side, for an issue that is critical to making realignment succeed and day-to-day operations continue without interruption. At our recent 2-day meeting in Sacramento, we were able to spend our first day – Legislative Day educating the legislators in the Capitol about the role of probation and the importance of our issues; including our three bills and continued funding for SB 678.

I know many folks are leery of politicians and skeptical of the political process. I don’t find fault with those that do, but the reality of the world we live in is that if we don’t participate in the process for our interests who will? Who will speak on our behalf? Those that are trying to overturn the gains that we have made over the last several decades, or those trying to turn us into public enemy number one in making us out to be some sort of criminal for valuing our retirement systems? I highly doubt it. In my relatively short time meeting with and educating politicians about who we are and what we do as a profession, I’m finding that their understanding of our job is lacking. That is why we must do our part by educating them and the public, along with taking the initiative to speak up about our issues. It’s not only important for us to do our jobs at a high level of competency and effectiveness, but it is critical for us to take the lead in creating our own roadmap for success. Become part of the solution. Become informed about relevant topics to the field of probation, then plan to meet and educate your local and state legislators about what you do and why it is important to adequately allocate funding to probation. We need to be at the forefront of the battle to preserve and expand funding to probation, and be an active participant when probation and related labor issues are being discussed.

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
SCOPO President