Riverside County’s Corrections Partnership committee met last week and allocated the $21.8 million from the state to implement the new statewide policy realigning felon imprisonment.
The County Sheriff’s Department, which will have to accommodate an additional 5,700 inmates, was granted $10.1 million. The Probation Department, whose workload will also significantly increase, was granted $5.7 million, the Department of Mental Health was given $4.2 million and the county police departments received $730,000. The remaining $1 million was split (about 60 percent) to the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office (40 percent).
The Sheriff’s Department told the Board of Supervisors their share is only enough for six months.
Assembly Bill 109 realigns the state’s responsibility for incarcerating inmates and allows nonviolent, nonserious and non-sex offenders to serve their sentence in county jails. The new law went into effect on Oct. 1, and 27 prisoners have already been assigned or transferred from state facilities to Riverside County jails, according to Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jerry Gutierrez.
There is no limit to the time they may be in jail. One of the first of the initial 27 was sentenced to 14 years and 4 months. The Sheriff’s Department has estimated that county jails will reach full capacity within four months, by January 2012.
An additional 38 correctional deputies will be needed to manage the jails. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating alternative facilities for some prisoners. The county would contract with these agencies, such as CAL FIRE, to oversee a portion of the inmate population. However, only a limited number would qualify for these options.