Law enforcement officials have said that one year after the state implemented its prisoner realignment program, crime is up and San Diego jails are full. The program was implemented in Oct. 2011 and required state prisons transfer low level, non-serious and non-sexual offenders from state facilities to county jails.
This caused inmate capacity throughout the state to skyrocket and left many jails with no other alternative than to release sentenced inmates early and many pretrial inmates on their own recognizance (OR). This, said a county spokesperson, has led to upticks in crime.
Others, such as representatives of the San Diego County Probation Department, believe it’s too soon to make a direct correlation.
At the time the realignment went into effect, San Diego jails are reported to have “welcomed the change with cautious optimism”, agreeing that housing certain prisoner populations at the county level could save a lot of money. The greatest challenge, though, was securing extra funding to counties to allow them to accommodate additional bodies. 12 months later, that question remains unanswered.
San Diego jails are currently operating at more than 90% capacity, according to a county spokesperson. Earlier this year Sheriff Bill Gore attempted to address the issue by shortening sentences. Although this initially seemed to do the trick, capacity began to tick back up shortly thereafter as new inmates were sentenced to serve time.
Gore said the county has since begun to release the lowest-level offenders via GPS monitoring and home confinement. The American Civil Liberties (ACLU) is applauding the move, citing a belief that “San Diego is on the right track”.