SACRAMENTO — Legislation was signed Monday by Gov. George Deukmejian levying a special assessment on criminal fines to pay for Orange County's new automated fingerprint identification system.
Under the legislation sponsored by state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), a special assessment of 50 cents for every $10 in criminal fines will be added to pay for the new fund.
Fines for violations of the state Vehicle Code--excluding parking fines and registration fees--will also fall under the assessment, which takes effect Jan. 1. The legislation is expected to raise more than $1 million a year for the county's Automated Fingerprint Identification Fund, county officials said.
5 Million Prints on File
The data-base system was installed earlier this year, and on Aug. 10, it was connected to Cal-Id, the state system that stores millions of fingerprints, said Lt. Richard Olson, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The system allows law enforcement agencies to identify suspects' fingerprints in seconds through computer access to more than 5 million fingerprints on file in Sacramento.
Olson said the fingerprint system will cost the county $650,000 a year to operate.
Also Monday, the governor allowed another Bergeson bill to become law without his signature. SB-1409 authorizes Orange County's Social Services Agency to provide outpatient counseling services for certain abused and neglected children without having to remove them from their home.
The legislation is designed to allow the county to provide needed care without having to submit the children to costly 24-hour foster care outside their homes.
Help for Abused Kids
Bergeson said the agency's Children's Services Department sought the legislation as a way of alleviating the overburdened foster-care system and giving children and their parents an opportunity to solve problems without resorting to foster care. If the outpatient program does not work, the next step would be removing the children from the home, she said.
"There is a cost factor for trying this. But the policy is sound and could have positive results," Bergeson said. "This is for the protection of the children and to try to keep them with their families, which is the best place for them to be."
Deukmejian signed another Bergeson bill that allows the county to consolidate the county's Harbors, Beaches and Parks District and assume its $50 million budget.
The merger would allow the county to stay under its so-called Gann limit, a budgetary ceiling adjusted for population growth and inflation that was imposed several years ago when voters passed an initiative sponsored by tax crusader Paul Gann.
The district provides caretaking services for recreational and historical facilities throughout the county.