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Thousands May Serve Sentences In The Community, Not Locked Up

San Diego County unveils a plan today to deal with thousands of offenders who will stay in San Diego instead of going to state prison.

The state prisons are overcrowded, the state budget is broke. An estimated 2,000 non-violent, non-sexual offenders will move from the state parole system to the county probation department, starting next month.

Another 2,000 who would have been sentenced to state prison will instead be sentenced to serve time in San Diego County.

The County had less than six months to prepare for the change. Mack Jenkins, head of San Diego’s probation department, developed the plan with a committee of other law enforcement leaders. He presents it to the Board of Supervisors today.

“We do know,” Jenkins said,” that to try and do the same thing with these populations that the state has done, that there is flat out not enough money for that. That requires us to use different strategies and alternatives. ”

Hear more on this from KPBS Reporter Alison St John on Evening Edition Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011.

Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV.

“Here in San Diego County we do have some limited jail space that is available now, but will rapidly fill up,” he said, “so our plan involves jail alternatives and custody alternatives to try and expand jail capacity.”

That means finding ways to supervise more offenders while they do time living in the community.

Jenkins said the state has promised San Diego $25 million in the first year. His plan spends $8 million to hire 75 extra probation officers.

Jenkins said there is no law yet to compel the state to make future payments, which could leave counties holding the bag.

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