Dumping Prison Inmates Into East Bay Jails

from the Contra Costa Times

East Bay jails have beds but no cash to take on the hundreds of inmates the state is expected to divert to counties as California tries to meet court-ordered prison population reductions.

“Counties have been promised money from the state before and have not always received the money as promised,” said Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern. “We are looking for full funding and constitutional guarantees of continued funding.”

Sheriffs are “literally meeting every week with (Gov. Jerry Brown) and his staff to make sure there is going to be adequate funding to absorb these prisoners into the local jails,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston.

Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision launched Ahern and Livingston, who oversee a combined 6,700 jail beds, into the front line of accelerated talks over how California will resolve its pernicious prison overcrowding problem.

The justices ruled that the state’s glutted prisons constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Brown this year introduced what he called “realignment,” shifting responsibility from the state to counties starting July 1 to jail and monitor low-level, nonviolent felons to save the state money and to ease prison overpopulation.

Counties could also receive some offenders in state custody. The state must shed 33,000 inmates over the next two years in order to meet the court ruling.

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