Brad Branan | Sacramento Bee
…Since California counties became responsible for lower-level offenders once housed in state prisons – the result of budget woes and a federal overcrowding lawsuit – some jails have become so cramped that inmates are regularly released early to make room.
In the first nine months of 2012, counties released inmates 120,000 times because of capacity limits, a 29 percent jump over the same period the year before, according to a Bee analysis of state data.
The first period precedes the Oct. 1, 2011, start of the state law, Assembly Bill 109, also known as realignment…
Six of the 10 counties with the highest rates of capacity-related inmate releases are in the Central Valley, including five south of Sacramento along U.S. 99: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Fresno, Tulare and Kern. Central Valley counties have greater jail capacity problems than other parts of the state because they had previously sent a greater proportion of offenders to state prisons, experts say…
Sheriffs in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Fresno counties told The Bee that early releases from their jails have created safety risks…But concern about the law's impact has become more common across the state, said Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, president of the California State Sheriffs' Association.
“I believe the early releases are contributing to an increase in property crime,” he said. “When you have inmates who are released early and not punished, and not provided access to programs, you're not discouraging them from committing more crime…” (Full text at Sacramento Bee)