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New Inmates Costly For San Diego

Audio

Aired 8/3/11

San Diego County jails will see an influx of 2,000 additional convicted criminals over the next several months. Public safety officials say unless the state coughs up more cash, those inmates could end up on the street and not rehabilitated.

— An influx of 2,000 additional inmates to San Diego County jails could put the public at risk if there is not adequate funding for rehabilitation programs, according to public safety officials.

Thousands of non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenders will be sentenced to county jail rather than state prison beginning October 1. The state made the change to try and address overcrowding in California prisons.

San Diego County officials say the cost of housing the new inmates will be nearly $100 million a year. But the state only plans to cover about $65 million of that cost.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she’s worried about what happens once county jails reach their capacity – which is expected in less than a year.

“We’re not going to have enough room for them so we’re going to have to release people early and they’re going to be in our communities and we don’t have the treatment resources in our community to deal with them adequately,” Dumanis said.

The sheriff, district attorney, and chief probation officer all made presentations to the County Board of Supervisors to outline the impact of housing the additional inmates.

Officially, the shift in responsibility is known as "realignment," which transfers responsibility for thousands of criminals to local law enforcement.

Among the biggest concern expressed was releasing more inmates back into the community if they had not received rehabilitation services.

Unless there is additional money for rehabilitation programs, inmates will re-offend in the community and end up back in jail, Dumanis said.

The recidivism rate in California is between 60 and 70 percent – one of the highest in the nation.

However, San Diego County already is home to ex-cons. Currently, state inmates released from prisons throughout California are bussed back to their home town.

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