OC Supervisors Order Crime Data Not Be Sent to Sacramento

The Orange County Board of Supervisors. From left: Michelle Steel, Shawn Nelson, Todd Spitzer, Lisa Bartlett, and Andrew Do. (Photos by Nick Gerda and Katlin Washburn)

Orange County supervisors blocked a crime data report from being sent to state officials, claiming much of it is based on a misleading statistical standard used by Sacramento to shift prisoner parole and probation responsibilities to counties.

As it has in past years, a county panel led by Chief Probation Officer Steve Sentman prepared the annual report on Orange County’s efforts to prevent people convicted of crimes from re-offending. The report included statistics about the portion of released prisoners who re-offend each year, known as recidivism, and showed an overall drop in re-offending in recent years.

Nearly all California counties submit the voluntary reports to the Board of State and Community Corrections, which compiles the data into an annual public report to the governor and state Legislature.

But county Supervisor Todd Spitzer has intensely disputed the state’s standardized definition for recidivism, which he says paints a falsely positive picture amid rising crime rates.

“It is a complete fiction, and it’s a fraud on the public, that a new conviction is what is now the test in California on recidivism,” Spitzer said last Tuesday when the report came before county supervisors. He has said recidivism should be defined by new arrests, whether or not they lead to a conviction.

If the county sends its report using the state’s convictions definition, he said, “we become part of the propaganda from Sacramento that wants to continue to shove these things down our throat.”

“We know that property crime is off the charts in Orange County. Crime’s up 20 percent,” he added.

But the county’s top probation officer said the county has been largely successful in reducing re-offending, and that he’s not aware of any studies proving a link between crime increases and the prisoner realignment law, known as AB 109, or the other voter-approved measures that some in law enforcement have blamed for crime increases.

“There is no research that I have seen, or stats, to prove that crime is up – whichever…crime that you’re looking at – is up because of AB 109, Prop 47, Prop 57,” Sentman told the board.

Supervisors voted unanimously to order the Probation Department not to send the report to Sacramento.

The state definition, adopted in 2014, defines recidivism as “conviction of a new felony or misdemeanor committed within three years of release from custody or committed within three years of placement on supervision for a previous criminal conviction.”

Spitzer disputed it at the time, saying it “will incorrectly portray AB 109 as ‘working’ when in reality many AB 109 criminals are on probation and re-offending.”

Spitzer is a likely candidate for Orange County District Attorney next year. Many law enforcement figures oppose or are critical of  the changes brought by AB 109 including Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

According to the county data that wasn’t sent to the state, since prisoner realignment began in 2011 the percentage of former inmates convicted of a crime within a year of release dropped from 25 percent to 20 percent.

(Click here to read the report that was ordered to not be sent to Sacramento.)

Supervisor Andrew Do, a former prosecutor in the DA’s office,  agreed with Spitzer, saying the state’s recidivism definition creates a “misleading” picture to the public.

“Do we want to continue to contribute to that picture that’s trying to be painted by Sacramento? And I agree with Supervisor Spitzer, we should not,” unless funding is at risk, Do said.

But Supervisor Lisa Bartlett disputed Spitzer’s suggestion that rising crime rates are linked to the state’s shift of prisoner responsibilities to the local level, known as realignment.

In talking with sheriff’s deputies, Bartlett said, many of those who are subject to realignment are showing up to their required meetings.

The former prisoners “are trying to get their lives back together again, to a great extent,” Bartlett said.

The probation chief agreed.

“I believe we are relatively successful in working with the offenders we have,” Sentman said.

Out of 382 offenders from July to December of last year, he said 316 “had no new law offenses. And when you look at public safety, that’s clearly the intention – is to get these individuals to…have productive lives.”

Orange County appears to be the only large county in California to withhold the data.

“There have been instances when Alpine and Sierra counties haven’t reported, and we footnoted that in our annual report…But those are rare,” said Tracie Cone, a spokeswoman for the state board.

Alpine and Sierra are the state’s two smallest counties, with populations of 1,110 and 3,100, respectively. Orange County is home to 3.2 million people.

By not submitting the report, the county may lose $200,000 in compensation for preparing it.

“For the counties’ trouble, they receive payment for this effort,” Cone wrote. “For a large county such as Orange, that amount is $200,000.”

A spokesman for the California Department of Finance, which authorizes, the payments, didn’t have an immediate answer Monday as to whether the county would receive the money.

The report, meanwhile, was already posted online by the county, as an agenda attachment for last week’s meeting, and state officials can simply download it.

“I’m not sure what the cute game is,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson. “Anyone that wants to go on the county’s website can get this document right now.”

Despite his critique, Nelson voted with the rest of the supervisors not to send the report.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • Ed Romero

    Why should they change the policies of the past. Remember when those Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting Racist Lesbians ran the County of Orange. They were led by the Racist former Chairperson of the Orange County GOP, former Judge, former Chief Probation and finally former Director of Health for the County of Orange. She held all those positions with a HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION. She Smoked so much Marijuana at her residence in the City of Anaheim that her neighbors would call our Probation Records Unit complaining about all the Marijuana fumes floating over to their houses. Then was that Asst. Chief Probation Officer that use to Smoke so much Marijuana while on duty that my co-workers gave her the AKA/Marijuana Nancy. Then there was our Los Pinos Detention Center, where the Lesbians Detention Officer use to Abuse Drugs so bad while on duty that my co-workers gave it the AKA/The Lesbian Drug Den. The Good Old Days, I’m sure Spitzer and so many other members of the GOP miss those days, if you got caught committing some crime back then all you had to do was make a few phone calls and the matter was swept under the rug.

    • LFOldTimer

      “I’m sure Spitzer and so many other members of the GOP miss those days,
      if you got caught committing some crime back then all you had to do was
      make a few phone calls and the matter was swept under the rug.”

      “Those days”? As if “those days” are in the past and a phone call won’t fix a criminal act TODAY?

      Come on, Ed. You’re slipping, little buddy. 🙂

  • I just finished reading the probation office report linked in the article. I recommend it to you all.

    Clearly the issue for Todd Spitzer is to hype-up fear of nonexistent crimes, and to promote the false idea that more severe punishments are effective.

    • LFOldTimer

      I recall when Spitzer first became a supe he wanted an ordinance on kids who house party to give the cops an excuse to bust down their doors legally and arrest the little rascals for under-aged drinking.

      I wonder how many beers Spitzer drank between the ages of 16 and 21? I bet the amount would fill the big orange balloon at the Great Park.

      If Spitzer is elected DA expect sting operations on jaywalkers throughout the OC.

  • I think using the term Convictions is proper, But OC Supes want to feel special. I am not positive in my old age but as I recall a person is not guilty until convicted so why should OC be any different from the other 57 counties in California?

  • Jasenn

    I wonder if Spitzer ever read the US Constitution? By his statements it seems he is suggesting the return to a Southern police state where police not only serve the public but also act as judges and juries.

    • LFOldTimer

      Spitzer is tough on all crime except instances when people wrongly handcuff proselytizers in fast food joints. That one is excusable. When one is handcuffed his movement is severely restricted. Try moving
      around with handcuffs on sometime. Technically most would call it an ‘arrest’.

      You will see Spitzer ‘rah rah’ the cops big time for the next 18 months since he needs their endorsement to get kicked across the finished line as DA. Why do you think he’s failed to trash talk Hutchens or the OCSD on the jail escape or the illegal informant scandal?

      Not rocket science.

  • OCservant_Leader

    BS Alert! Again – I call Foul Ball on the BOS’s suppressing the truth and re-mixing FAKE news to AHA! align with THIER self-serving personal priority to continue to give Law Enforcement MORE funding (which CAN’T Be justified).

    Spritzer has lost his damn mind! Counting arrests (without conviction data) gives an inaccurate picture of crime…but does give “busy work” numbers of Law Enforcement = GEDs with guns –harassing and arresting citizens for no reason.

    If there is no conviction -then the GEDs didn’t have it right. Why hire MORE??

    Irregardless, OC BOS NOT cooperating with State Crime Data gathering — should make OC citizens very concerned.

    Orange County officials are running a scam on you people.

    • LFOldTimer

      This move will just increase the tension between the county and the state – and the state will find more reasons to take more money from Orange County. Talk about cutting off you nose to spite your face!!! These people must have attended the Mike Carona School of Negotiations.

      But they don’t care. All of them have their eye on a higher offices and only use us as stepping stones. If Spitzer is elected as the DA and Michelle Steel is elected to congress that’s about as much as I can handle. I’m packing up and leaving the state.

  • LFOldTimer

    I wonder how many citizen’s arrests were executed in OC in the last 5 years on proselytizers in fast food restaurants for Jesus talk while glancing at plastic utensils on the recipient’s table in a menacing manner?

    Let me guess. One.

    Sacramento should know about it so a statewide alert could be issued to warn the proselytizer population to put a lid on Jesus in OC fast food restaurants. Especially those that serve fish tacos. One never knows who they might run into.

    But I get a kick out of the County of Orange accusing the state of manipulating data. lol. That’s like Frankenstein calling Dracula a POS. lol.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Yea- Spitzer wants to count the “FAKE” arrest of bible boy….as a crime.

      That’s how you keep crime data UP- and justify more funding for His beloved law enforcement (who Dropped Millions in his campaign war chest).

      Bible – boy got handcuffed, placed in cop car and got an illegal lecture about “harassment” from a GED with a gun, making 200k and who can’t be fired.


      • LFOldTimer

        I understand the poor kid lost his job too since the contract with the county was partially and coincidentally severed.

        Gee, funny how strange things happen in sequence to people, isn’t it?