Moving low level offenders to local jails from prison

Local law enforcement officials are reacting warily to Governor Brown's plan to house more prisoners in county jails instead of in more expensive state prisons.

Governor Brown's first budget is a lot about restructuring state government, putting more of a burden on local governments including housing and monitoring criminal offenders.

For several years now, it's been mostly very good news on the local crime front. The crime rate, including violent crime, is down drastically and overcrowding in our jails is no longer an issue– no small feat considering local and state budget issues.

But now the governor is asking local law enforcement to do even more. “I think we can do it better, here at the local level, the problem is you can't trust the state to give us the funding that's required, they haven't lived up to their promises in the past so there's no reason to believe they'll live up to them in the future,” said San Diego D.A. Bonnie Dumanis.

Much of the state's budget crisis comes from the money spent on our prison system– almost 9-billion dollars. The governor wants a half billion dollar reduction by housing low-level offenders in county jails, not the state system. Local authorities would also take on more responsibility for monitoring parolees.

But where's the money, asks the D.A.? “If you put more people in, you have to have more people to staff it, more programs, everything you need on a larger level, then you have people coming into the system, felony arraignment, where do we put the people coming in now that the jail is crowded with people just coming from the state?” asked Dumanis.

Dumanis also mentioned programs such as second chance, which are a big reason why our area gets high marks for the resources it provides for people trying to re-enter the community. Many of second chance's clients are ex-offenders.    

“Each year,” says Dumanis, “about 8,000 prisoners who've finished their time in state prison are released back into the county.” “Now,” she says, “we're being asked to house more current prisoners, who will eventually be paroled. And we're being asked to take on more monitoring when that's an area already among the hardest hit by budget issues.”

It doesn't work she says and the crime rate will undoubtedly go up.

Categories: KUSI