Friday, November 18, 2011
Antonovich Denounces Transfer of Mentally Ill Prisoner Under AB 109
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich yesterday announced that his efforts to stop the state from transferring a prisoner with a history of mental illness to a county hospital had failed.
“The political appointees who made this stupid and reckless decision from the safety of their secure offices, turn a deaf ear to the warnings from the Chief of Psychiatry at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Alex Kopelowicz, who said his facility is not equipped or staffed to handle a patient with this violent history and who poses a threat to the safety of patients and staff,” Antonovich said yesterday.
Antonovich, in a letter to the governor Tuesday, asserted that the inmate due to arrive at the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar—after having been housed at maximum-security prisons in Folsom and Atascadero—is not the sort of parolee the Board of Supervisors anticipated accepting under the realignment plan set forth in AB 109.
The bill, signed into law in April, allocates certain responsibilities for lower level offenders, adult parolees and juvenile offenders from state to local jurisdictions. It was designed to transfer low-level offenders in state prisons to local jails and facilities to alleviate prison overcrowding and improve medical conditions for inmates.
Antonovich yesterday contended Brown had promised the Board of Supervisors that “this type of prisoner would never be a candidate for parole under AB109,” noting the inmate’s history of mental illness and record of arrests for rape, being a prisoner in possession of a weapon, assault on a police officer, arson, assault, sexual battery, indecent exposure and robbery.
“This inmate should never have been paroled in the first place and should have remained in state custody,” Antonovich said
He criticized AB 109 as being flawed since it “allows criminals with a violent past to be considered low level offenders” as long as the inmate’s most recent crime is non-violent, and be and transferred to county supervision, so that “the cost of further care, treatment and all liability for this individual will be at the expense of the Los Angeles County taxpayers.”
Antonovich said the County Department of Mental Health has initiated an assessment of the inmate for potential placement in a locked-down high-security mental health facility on contract with the county, which could result in a readmission to the state’s maximum security hospital in Atascadero.
“If this effort fails, the county will pursue vigorous legal action to protect our citizens,” Antonovich vowed.
He also said the county “ intends to move aggressively to pass legislation to amend AB 109 to include the totality of an inmate’s record when being considered for parole.”
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company