By Mary O’KEEFE
On April 7, John Drayman was sentenced to 365 days in Los Angeles County jail, with five years probation, and ordered to pay restitution to the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. On Tuesday, he was released from county jail with an ankle monitor and allowed to go home.
Alyce Russell, former president of the MSPA, said she is disappointed by the news.
“I would have liked him to have served a year … and that was the minimum [sentence],” she said.
Russell said that several people have commented on his being released from county jail this early. She heard from one person who had given Drayman money at the beginning for his trial expenses who was “furious” with the early release. She added that there is a lot of anger from people and they don’t think it is fair.
“What are the consequences?” she asked.
She reported that one person sarcastically said, “Boy, this is a great country we live in.”
As the news spread, comments swirled around Crescenta Valley that included questions of preferential treatment due to Drayman’s former position as a Glendale city councilmember. This seems unlikely because the City of Glendale, via the Glendale Police Dept., spent thousand of hours and dollars to investigate the case charging Drayman with embezzlement of over $300,000 from MSPA.
The reason Drayman was released from jail after serving such a small amount of time can be traced back to a law that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011.
In April 2011, the signing of AB109 established the California Public Safety Realignment Act. This was designed to comply with an order from the U.S. Supreme Court Order to reduce the California prison population.
Realignment allows non-violent, non-serious and non-sex offenders (Non3s) who are released from state prison to be transferred/supervised at the local county level. Drayman was not sentenced to state but to county jail; however, the overcrowding conditions of county jails, in part due to state transfers, do affect all who are sentenced.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich has been vocal about his concerns regarding AB109. At present, he is in Sacramento asking for funding to cover the burden the realignment has put on local counties, specifically L.A. County, which he represents.
It costs the L.A. County jail $118 per day, per bed to house a prisoner; the LASD is reimbursed $77 per day/per bed. Antonovich is in favor of new legislation that could give counties the option for private prison facilities, which is at an estimated cost of $65 per day/per bed, said Anna Pembedjian, justice deputy for Antonovich.
Former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino is another opponent of the Realignment Act.
“I did not support AB109 because it was ill-conceived and had little to no involvement or input from the law enforcement communities as to its implementation and consequences,” said Portantino. “Many of the early releases that have resulted from it have led to consequences that have many of us shaking our heads.”
To be a candidate for a monitoring device depends on the prisoner and his, or her, history.
“A risk assessment is done,” said Lt. Jason Wolak, custody division of the L.A. Sheriff’s Dept.
In Drayman’s case, the risk assessment made him a likely candidate.
“[Drayman] does not have a criminal history, he came across as a candidate,” Wolak said. “He has to pay for it, there is a fee to put it on and a daily fee.”
The initial cost for the ankle monitor is anywhere from $200 to $300 and then $20 to $25 a day. The actual amount is dependent upon ability to pay, which is determined by a financial analysis.
Those who qualify for a monitoring device are rare in L.A. County.
“We only have 63 people with [monitors] approved,” Wolak added. He added that Drayman’s initial sentence of 365 days would have automatically been reduced to about 180 days.
Prisoners are able to reduce their sentencing by time already served, and by not having any disciplinary incidents while serving, said Pembedjian.
The bigger picture, beyond Drayman’s release, is the effect Non3s and post-release supervised persons (PSP) have on the community.
“I can tell you how many re-arrests there are of PSPs,” said Pembedjian.
As of March 28, since the Realignment began there have been 27,332 re-arrests of the 20,204 PSPs who were released to the responsibility of the County. The re-arrest number is higher than the PSPs because some of them were arrested, released and arrested more than once, Pembedjian said.
“We have seen property crimes going up in a lot of our cities that [did] have low property crimes. Some increased 200%,” Pembedjian said. “And parole violators are not going to state jail; some of them are doing only a handful of days.”
The decision to analyze Drayman’s eligibility to be released with a monitoring device was random, Wolak said.
“We can’t discriminate despite how newsworthy they may be,” he said.
Wolak added that electronic monitoring involves many entities, or divisions, of L.A. County.
“[Drayman] was in the Twin Towers, then moved to the Inmate Reception Center,” he added. He was analyzed and was fitted with the monitoring device.
What Drayman’s financial situation is will be up to the court appointed financial analyst to determine. He will still have to pay restitution and complete his probation.
Whether or not he wanted it, Drayman may have secured his place as the poster child of AB109.