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San Diego Sheriff Shortening Some Jail Terms To Avoid Overcrowding

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is shaving up to 10 percent off jail terms for some inmates to avoid overcrowding, it was reported today.

Earlier this month, Gore authorized the release of about 260 inmates as the number of men held in custody in San Diego County swelled to 96 percent capacity, according to U-T San Diego.

The move comes nearly four months after new legislation shifted the responsibility for some convicts to county jails instead of the overcrowded state prison system. Gore told U-T San Diego his decision to release some county inmates early was unrelated to the legislation.

Gore and previous sheriffs have had the discretion for more than 20 years to grant 10 percent early-release credits because of a pair of lawsuits in the 1970s and 1980s aimed at improving jailhouse conditions.

The average number of inmates being released locally per day is 35 to 40, U-T San Diego reported. Most of affected inmates were serving misdemeanor sentences or were nonviolent felons ordered to serve jail time as a condition of probation, according to the newspaper.

"Most of them would have been released within a couple weeks,'' Gore told the newspaper. "We had the immediate need to create bed space.''

As of law week, about 5,200 men and women were jailed in San Diego County, according to U-T San Diego. Total capacity is 5,600.

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