Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff is taking the bull by the horns and proposing his own legislative fixes to a state Assembly bill that has resulted in disastrous jail overcrowding, he said in a news release Wednesday.
"The Sheriff's Department will put together a staff package over the next few weeks of recommended legislative fixes for AB 109 (Realignment) for our local legislative representatives for their next session in 2013," wrote Sniff in his release.
The sheriff refers to a state Assembly bill passed in 2011 that was intended to ease overcrowding in the state prisons, instead shifting that population to the county.
According to Sniff, since October 2011, those defendants who were convicted in state court have been kept imprisoned locally, rather than being shipped off to the prisons.
Lower level offenders who violated parole—in the past all parole violators were sent back to prison—now remain behind bars locally, the sheriff said.
Sniff lauded the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for finding money to create more jail space but even with those additions, since January, said Sniff, the county has had to release 5,470 inmates before their terms were completed.
The sheriff’s department is under a federal court order to release inmates when the jail capacity is exceeded.
“The Board of Supervisors are not involved in that process—it is solely the responsibility of the Sheriff on when and who we are forced to release,” Sniff wrote.
Though the Supervisors have included the construction of more jail space in the county’s capital improvement budget, the prisoners will keep coming, he said.
"This was not thought through carefully and the Legislature has not cleaned up the bill's serious flaws in spite of repeated requests by the criminal justice system agencies to do so,” Sniff wrote.
The sheriff added that the county jails book 60,000 inmates per year from all law enforcement agencies.