Carrie Kahn

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DAVID GREENE, Host:

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN: L.A.'s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he's worried about the public's safety. The state is sending thousands of parolees here but no extra money to deal with them.

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America

Losing weight in America is big business. Americans spend $61 billion a year on everything from diet pills and exercise videos to meal plans, health club memberships and medical treatment. One of the fastest growing and lucrative segments of the weight-loss market is surgery.

The state of California will begin shifting responsibility Saturday for tens of thousands of prisoners to local officials. The unprecedented change is under way because the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state to reduce its dangerously overcrowded prisons.

County officials have had just months to plan for the influx of prisoners and parolees into their communities. Of all the prisoners and parolees leaving the state's system, the bulk are headed to Los Angeles County. Los Angeles is expecting to have to deal with 15,000 additional criminals.

Although thousands of miles from ground zero, San Diego's Muslim community drew attention after Sept. 11, 2001. Two of the hijackers lived there. They also prayed at a local mosque, where noted radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki preached. Recently, several men from the Somali community were arrested and charged with aiding a terrorist group.

A local imam has been working to open dialogue between Muslims and the larger community in part to combat the suspicion that arose after the local ties came to light.

Faced with massive overcrowding, budget cuts and a weeks-long hunger strike by inmates, California is considering making changes to how it handles its toughest prisoners.

A state legislative panel will hear Tuesday about conditions at the state prison at Pelican Bay, where California's most dangerous convicts are shipped. Located near the Oregon border, Pelican Bay is hundreds of miles from any major city. It's the most isolated prison in the system: Think Alcatraz, but on land.

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