California’s prison diversion program, a highly controversial mandate, is looking worse than ever as the actual number of dispersed prisoners has greatly exceeded projections.
County jails have begun opening closed wings and seeking further accommodations in order to account for the extra prisoners thrust upon them.
Los Angeles County jails were originally supposed to harbor 600 state prisoners, but that figure has already increased to 900, with potentially more to arrive. Orange County jails have accepted double what they predicted, and local experts believe that the OC will run out of beds by May.
Although they are receiving additional state funding, the only viable solution may be to start releasing inmates who are awaiting trial, on the condition that they wear electronic monitors.
As one of the largest counties, Los Angeles County jails are expected to take an additional 8,000 prisoners in 2012, but they only have 1,800 beds left for those inmates, and some jails reportedly will be at capacity by December.
None of the alternatives are ideal, but state officials cannot find more viable solutions. Amongst the fears of releasing inmates with electronic monitoring are that they will flee the state before trial or commit further crimes.
What has caused the gross mis-approximation of prisoners? Well, at least a few were the result of defense attorneys delaying their client’s trials to ensure that they get jail time rather than the more serious prison time.The upcoming realignment was well-known, so a lawyer could easily await the announcement.
Throughout all of southern California, county jails are filling up, making the release of inmates inevitable. Riverside County jails are already at 93% capacity and by January they will no longer be able to accept prisoners.
Something must change in the coming months, with either new prisons being built or prisoners getting released, but no matter what the solution is, the California legal system will surely face dramatic future changes.
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