Inmate proposal to impact Contra Costa Co. services

Figures show 59 percent of those released from prison are back within three years.
March 22, 2011 2:50:13 PM PDT
A plan to shift hundreds of inmates from state prison to Contra Costa County jails could put an unsustainable burden on local facilities and services, especially if the legislature doesn't provide adequate funding. That's the consensus among law enforcement and criminal justice department heads who appeared before the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.

"The state has a long history of under-funding county programs," said County Administrator David Twa," and we have some grave concerns about whether the funding is going to be adequate to meet the needs of the county."

In an effort to close a $26 million budget deficit, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed shifting as many as 37,000 low-risk state prison inmates to local jails.

Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston estimates the new scheme would add about 200 prisoners to the county's three jail facilities, which right now house about 1700 inmates. About 90 percent of those are awaiting trial and would normally be released or transferred to state prisons, if they are convicted.

"I think the key word here is uncertainty," said Livingston. "In principle we do support the governor, but we do have concerns."

Under Brown's plan, only non-serious, non-violent offenders with no history of sexual assault would be eligible to serve out their sentence at the local level. The State Department of Corrections receives nearly $50,000 per year to house one inmate. Under Brown's proposal, counties would be reimbursed just $25,000 per prisoner.

Twa told the board of supervisors, the state already has an outstanding bill of $750,000 for state parole violators who are currently housed in Contra Costa jails.

Contra Costa County Probation Officers Philip Kader said his client load will increase dramatically if more prisoners serve their time and need post-release supervision at the local level.

"The state is very good at promising money," said Kader, "and then within several years it goes away and we're stuck with the mandate."


Load Comments