A representative for the Riverside County jails said that local detention centers are still trying to work through growing pains brought on by CA prisoner realignment program.
The program took effect in October of 2011. It came after the US Supreme Court found that state institutions were so overcrowded that it was having a negative impact on inmate health care and mental health services. The high court ordered California to significantly reduce its prisoner capacity. The state decided the best way to do this was to transfer non-serious, non-sexual and non-violent offenders to county jails in order to serve out their sentences.
Each county has started to receive additional funding in order to help cover expenses. These monies are reportedly to be used to cover local costs. These could include but are not limited to paying for probation officials, additional parole agents, health care and housing.
Agencies who are in charge of allocating these monies said that they are finally having a better understanding of how to best distribute these funds. For example, Riverside County jails previously received a quarter million dollars to be used toward mental health services. That situation has been closely monitored and evaluated, and next year that budget has reportedly grown to $1.5 million.
The District Attorney’s office has learned that they do not need as many staff members to handle realignment cases as they initially thought.
The Sheriff’s Department has said many local agencies are still trying to determine the true cost of the realignment. They are asking for additional funds that would allow them to contract bed space from other counties. They are seeking $4.5 million to cover this expense. Riverside County jails are quickly nearing capacity. Plans for a new facility are in the works but it is not scheduled to open for several years.
At the current time county officials estimate that nearly 10,000 inmates have been released early because there has not been enough room to detain them. A spokesperson for the Riverside County jails say that realigned prisoners now make up about 25% of their total daily population.
The county is under court order to release people when the average daily population nears creeps toward 4,000.
The people who are in charge of allocating realignment monies said they are still in the process of making their final determinations. They are also still trying to decide whether to let agencies keep any surplus funds that are not spent during the current and upcoming fiscal years.