Law enforcement worried over prisoner releases


In about a week, those cops and jailers are expecting a flood of prisoners to be transferred out of state custody and into theirs. Victims' rights groups are not happy

Gov. Jerry Brown assured hundreds of law enforcement and local government leaders that there will be funding for the massive number of prisoners they're about to take on.

"Don't worry about the money," Brown said. "We'll get it to you one way or another!"

Beginning October 1, low level criminals will begin serving their time at the county jail instead of state prison. That'll save California money and help meet a federal court order to reduce its prison population.

The problem is: the state budget only pays for the inmate shift for the first year.

"It's worrisome because we have nowhere to put them and nowhere to supervise them," said Nick Warner with the California State Sheriff's Association.

Warner says the prisoner shift is a good plan because with a 70 percent recidivism rate, the current system isn't working. But money will determine its success.

"Properly funded and with stability in that funding, locals can and will do a better job," Warner said. "De-funded or unfunded, this will be a criminal justice nightmare."

The possibility of a nightmare is why victims' rights groups are also worried. In about three years, an estimated 100,000 criminals who would have served time in a state prison are serving their sentence in a county jail.

Many local jails are already too crowded. Some of those inmates may be let go to make room for the new state prisoners.

"We have a poor economy," said Harriet Salarno with the organization Crime Victims United. "We have no jobs. So what are these people who are coming out and not rehabilitated, what are they going to do? Go back to their lifestyle."

Since Republicans blocked the Governor's plan to extend temporary taxes to pay for it, he vows to put a measure on the November 2012 ballot asking voters to guarantee funding with a Constitutional Amendment.

"I am not going to be stymied by a minority opposition," Brown said. "Thank God we have the initiative process."

The Governor is also expected to ask voters to approve tax increases to help keep the prisoner shift plan intact.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.