On October 1, 2011 in response to a federal court order that the State of California reduce its horribly overcrowded prison population, the legislature changed the California felony sentencing law and made many lower level felonies in California punishable by time in county jail and not in state prison. What has been the impact of this important law change?
In an 8 month period, since the changes to California’s felony sentencing law, the state prison population has dropped by about 24,000 inmates down to 136,187. This is good news. We now rank 2nd to Texas in total inmates in our state prisons. We should be happy to give up first place because the goal is to save millions of dollars by no longer housing low level offenders in state prison.
However, the very bad news is that county jail inmate populations in the state have swelled by over 12,000 inmates. The problem with this is that the county jails were already overcrowded before this new law was passed. Now the conditions are completely unlivable in most counties. In fact, it is reported that 31 out of our 58 counties are at their “cap” and cannot accept any more inmates. Thus, when a new inmate comes into custody, the county jail must release that inmate from doing his jail sentence, or release another inmate to make room for him. This is not how our criminal justice system was designed to run.
This problem is due to the fact that California is hurting for money. While the state promised to provide local counties with substantial additional dollars to house the increasing number of inmates, the local counties have not received any additional funds.
Where do we go from here? What else can we do to keep the most serious criminals behind bars while at the same time releasing those from custody for minimal, non-violent offenses?
We certainly need immediately help because at this pace we will likely see inmates in local county jails unable to cope with the overcrowding and that can only lead to very bad developments in the future.
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Wallin & Klarich’s team of professional felony defense attorneys in Los Angeles counts with over 30 years of experience providing clients facing felony charges with superb legal representation throughout Southern California. If your loved one is currently facing felony charges in California, Call us today at 888-280-6839 for immediate assistance and answers to your questions. When you call us, we’ll be there.