By: Don Thompson, AP, posted by Laird Harrison, Feb. 28th 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—California counties are housing more than 1,100 inmates on long-term sentences in jails designed for stays of a year or less, according to the first report detailing the growth in that population under Gov. Jerry Brown’s criminal justice realignment strategy.
[photo: Fresno jail inmates. (Monica Lam/Center for Investigative Reporting) ]
The oversight of so many long-term inmates is presenting challenges for county sheriffs, especially with the number expected to grow markedly in the years ahead. In addition to finding adequate space to house the new population, the sheriffs also must provide the inmates with education, treatment programs, rehabilitation services and recreation, which adds to their costs.
Vehicle theft, drug trafficking, receiving stolen property, identity theft and commercial burglary were the most common crimes for jail inmates who were sentenced to 5 to 10 years in county jails, according to the report, which was obtained by The Associated Press before its public release.
The report, covering all but six of the state’s 58 counties, was done by the California State Sheriffs’ Association and sent to the governor’s administration and Legislature.
“We are not set up to house inmates for this period of time,” said Nick Warner, the association’s legislative director. “They’re living in conditions that they’re not designed to stay in for this long.”
The Los Angeles County Jail is holding 35 percent of all long-term inmates. Statewide, 44 inmates already have been sentenced to more than a decade in local jails, with one Los Angeles County man serving a 43-year term for trafficking large amounts of drugs.
As of Monday, the association found that 1,153 inmates in county jails were sentenced to at least five years. Drug trafficking resulted in most of the sentences topping a decade, although a Riverside County inmate is serving nearly 13 years for felony child abuse and a Solano County inmate is serving more than 10 years as a serial thief.