SACRAMENTO — On a Wednesday morning last month, Nicole Clements walked into her Sacramento parole agent's office about 9:40 and signed a one-page document.
The "Notification of Non-Revocable Parole Requirements" spelled out the rules for the 37-year-old Clements, who had been on parole for identity theft and has a history of arrests or citations for drug, theft and other crimes.
"You do not have a parole agent," the document states. "You do not have a requirement to report to a parole office."
"If special and general conditions of parole have been previously imposed upon you, they are no longer in effect," the document states.
In short, Clements could do anything and not be sent back to prison on a parole violation.
Five hours later, she was in a check cashing office trying to pass a counterfeit MoneyGram for $932, authorities say.
Before Jan. 25, handling the alleged offense would have been a fairly simple procedure.
"On a normal case, I would call her parole officer, let her know what she did, and she would go to a parole hearing and get anywhere from six months to a year prison, and we wouldn't have to go through the rest of the court system," said Chris Bowman, a retired Sacramento police detective who investigated the case as an on-call investigator for the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force.
Instead, because of the state's new policies on parole, sheriff's officials had to file new charges, send the case to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution and start the legal process all over.
It is one of the problems that law enforcement and crime victims groups cite with the new parole policies, which are being blamed for early release of county jail inmates and other releases of potentially violent prison inmates without supervision.
At the heart of the controversy is a law passed last year that took effect Jan. 25 and was supposed to improve the state's parole system.
The idea was to shift resources away from nonviolent, low-level offenders thought to be less likely to re-offend, or at least less likely to commit serious or violent new crimes.
By removing them from supervision of parole agents, the agents would have more time to supervise the violent and serious offenders who have won release, the thinking went.
But from Day One, the law has come under attack from crime victims' groups, law enforcement and others through news conferences, lawsuits and protests.
Read the full story at sacbee.com