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Local Jails To See More Convicts

Under AB 109, some individuals convicted of non-violent crimes will serve their time in county jail, not state prison.

Under a new law that went into effect Oct. 1, some convicts will now serve their sentences in local jails instead of state prisons.

The mandate has Riverside County officials strategizing on how to deal with the increased burden.

According to Chief Deputy Jerry Gutierrez, the effects of Assembly Bill 109 -- approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor in April -- are already being felt.

Under the measure, so-called "non's'' -- individuals convicted of crimes that fall into the non-violent, non-serious category and whose principal offense results in a sentence of three years or less -- are to be incarcerated in county jail to serve their time.

However, according to Gutierrez, AB 109's amendments to the penal code do not differentiate between a principal offense and enhancement or special circumstance allegations that add to the defendant's sentence. The result: felons can be sentenced to 5, 10, 20 or more years in county jail, as long as their punishment is for the same "underlying offense,'' Gutierrez said.

"Within the first week of this new law ... the Riverside County Sheriff's Department received several inmates who fall into this ('non') category,'' Gutierrez said. "One inmate was sentenced to a total of 14 years and four months county time; another was sentenced to nine years; and another was sentenced to six years. Three others were sentenced to five years each.''

To deal with the increased burden on local jails, a think-tank called the Community Corrections Partnership has been formed. It is comprised of Sheriff Stan Sniff, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, Chief Probation Officer Alan Crogan, Public Defender Gary Windom and other representatives from the court and law enforcement communities.

The CCP's goal will be identifying how best to preserve county resources in the face of higher costs and space limitations. The group is expected to develop plans over the next several months that will be presented to the county Board of Supervisors.

AB 109 "scares and concerns me,'' Zellerbach has said, citing both the new jail requirements and changes in the management of adult parole.

The law makes monitoring and treatment of the "non's'' a province of county probation departments, instead of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation.

Funding for programs aimed at preventing recidivism has been made available in the current fiscal year, but local officials remain uncertain about the future.

AB 109 was part of the governor's "realignment'' strategy to shift more state functions to localities in what proponents hailed as a move toward greater efficiency. Critics, including Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, have voiced concerns that the state will pile up additional obligations on counties without financial support.

The county is expecting to end 2011-12 about $80 million in the red. Most of that deficit will be concentrated in public safety agencies, which consume the largest share of general fund appropriations. --City News Service and Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

LEResident October 13, 2011 at 11:35 PM
What???They cannot afford the transportation going back and forth to court or the cost of transferring from one state prison to another....kind of funny!
Jeff Callahan October 14, 2011 at 04:36 AM
Kick non-violent offenders to probation. Only keep violent felonious offenders in jails and prisons. Change state concealed carry law to shall-issue, reduce the number of violent offenders in the system through attrition and fear of an armed populace. Begin billing foreign countries and seizing foreign assets to compensate for any foreign nationals illegally in this country who commit crimes and are incarcerated here. Legalize recreational use of cannabis and tax out-of-state cannabis tourists and earmark part of those taxes for incarcerating ONLY violent offenders. Next problem please.
Roberto October 14, 2011 at 05:15 AM
Violent offenders, child molesters, white collar criminals.....all others out!
Anthony October 14, 2011 at 07:40 PM
All plausable and reasanable ideas! Too bad there is no reasonality in politics....>
Melodie . October 17, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Why don't we "outsource" our prison population to China or India.....it works for everything else! We could even put those people behind bars to work making the tee-shirts and shoes they sell in Wal-Mart! It would be a win-win proposition, for a change! Don't laugh...think about it....they'd be paying for their "room and board" by the sales of the junk we sell over here, and we wouldn't have to deal with taking care of them in our expensive, grossly mismanaged prison system here. Oops, I forgot! They need color television, pornography, excellent food and gym facilities.....so the tax payers would still have to fork over for those "necessities" for those folks who have no respect for the law.

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