California county prisons are receiving more inmates than expected after the controversial prison realignment plan began a few months ago.
Los Angeles County officials expected 600 state prisoners but now they’re booked at 900. Orange County expected its jails to reach capacity by 2013, but at this rate they could reach it by the middle of next year. In Kern County, Bakersfield, the jail system filled up so quickly that the Sheriff’s Department released 50 parole violators because there weren’t enough jail beds.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is considering a similar move if the state can’t provide enough funding to help house the prisoners. Los Angeles County, like others, are under court order averting jail overcrowding, so releasing some inmates is almost inevitable to make room for state prisoners.
Sheriff Baca said he is considering a plan to release some inmates who are awaiting trial and attach electronic monitoring devices to track their movements. Other county officials consider major expansion of house-arrest programs or moving some nonviolent inmates to mental health programs would ameliorate the problem.
What are other solutions to a prisoner influx in county jails? Why is there a prisoner influx in county jails to begin with? Is there a better way to reduce California’s massive inmate population? At this rate, will jail admissions level out? If not, and there isn’t enough money to house all the prisoners, is electronic monitoring a viable option? How many inmates can be released safely wearing such a device? What are other options?
Chief Alex Yim, Chief of Correctional Services Division, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department
Chief Jerry Gutierrez, Chief of Corrections, Riverside County Sheriffs Department
Commander Steve Kea, Commander of Custody and Court Operations Command, Orange County Sheriffs Department