San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said that starting May 1, suspects booked on certain misdemeanor charges will no longer be accepted into local jails, including the San Diego Central Jail located downtown. Gore said the change is being implemented due to the increased prisoner capacity brought on by the state’s prison realignment program.
The San Diego Union Tribune reported that the realignment, which was supposed to help close California’s budget gap and reduce state prison overcrowding is having a negative impact on county detention operations. Under the program detainees who have been convicted of non-violent, non-sexual and non-serious crimes have been transferred to local jails to serve their sentences.
Gore said that as an effect, many of San Diego’s jails are at or nearing capacity. Maximum inmate capacity in San Diego is 5,600, the Tribune reported, and as of last week approximately 4,900 inmates were currently detained. Persons booked on misdemeanor charges spend an average of 13 days in custody. Approximately 200 of the current 4,900 inmates are being held for misdemeanor offenses.
Other offenders are having their sentences cut short. In January 2012 the San Diego Sheriff’s Department authorized early release for some inmates in order to create immediate bed space.
San Diego District Attorney Jan Goldsmith said that shifting state problems to local governments was creating safety risks. A more meaningful solution, he said, would have involved cutting unnecessary state spending.