Sheriff Baca says prison ruling could send 10,000 prisoners to LA County

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca talks about the Department of Homeland Security's Secure Communities program in Washington, DC.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca Monday expressed concerns about a United States Supreme Court ruling ordering California to release 32,000 prison inmates over two years.

Baca said about a third of the state’s prison population comes from L.A. County. That means that under the Supreme Court’s ruling, L.A. could see an influx of more than 10,000 – more than any other county.

“Make no mistake about it, the sheriffs and local police are going to be very, very busy trying to figure out a way to manage this population," Baca told KPCC.

Baca said some state inmates could be placed in local jails. But that would displace less serious offenders.

Former Orange County supervisor and Deputy District Attorney Todd Spitzer echoed the concern. “If you start putting state prisoners back in our local jails, what’s going to happen to your DUI driver? What’s going to happen to the guy who gives his wife a black eye?" Spitzer said. "There’s not going to be any space in our county jails for handling what we call misdemeanants or what we call lower grade felonies.”

Baca said some inmates could be strapped with electronic monitors. In any case, he said the state needs to help local governments cope with prisoners returning to their home counties.

“The money that’s necessary to manage the prisoners either in local jails or in the community under a county parole system – that money must accompany the solution," Baca said.

To date, Governor Jerry Brown has said help for counties would come from an extension of tax increases – something Republicans have refused to support.

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