County Sheriffs Doubt Calif. Prison Proposal

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California sheriffs say county jails are overcrowded, casting doubt on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to transfer 40,000 low-level offenders from state to county jails.

The proposal is part of Brown’s efforts to reduce California’s gaping budget deficit.

Jails in 20 counties — including Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado — are under court order to release inmates when they become too crowded. Jails there often operate at or near capacity.

Statewide, tens of thousands of inmates are released early from county jails each year because of overcrowding.

If Brown’s plan is approved, sheriffs say they will have to release additional inmates early to house state prisoners.

Administration officials say they are still working on the plan and hope to come up with ways of helping counties with limited jail space. One option would be through AB 900, which authorized $7.4 billion in bonds for jail construction and rehabilitation projects in 2007.

Eleven jail projects have been approved since AB 900’s passage, but only two have broken ground and none have been completed.

Sheriffs also worry that state funding won’t cover the cost of housing the transferred inmates. Brown’s current budget proposal calls for $1.5 billion to go to counties for incarceration and other correctional costs.

The funding depends on voters approving an extension of previous vehicle license fee and sales tax increases in June.

Counties approved for funding have had difficulty raising their portion of the financing, according to state corrections officials.


%d bloggers like this: