California Prepares to Send More Nonviolent Offenders to County Jails

County jail authorities across California are preparing for an influx of inmates from the state’s prison after the Supreme Court ordered the state to reduce its prison population by approximately 30,000.

The Supreme Court order has not come as a surprise to Pasadena criminal defense attorneys and prison safety groups who have been appalled at the conditions in most of our prisons.  The Court order would mean that thousands of inmates will be transferred from state prisons to county jails.  State authorities have been preparing for such a move for a while now.

A new law, Assembly Bill 109, allows nonviolent offenders who have committed crimes to be sent to county jail instead of state prison.  The law would take effect on July 1st.  Governor Jerry Brown has given his approval to the bill, and its implementation is becoming more urgent with the Supreme Court order.

Under the bill, those offenders who have been convicted of nonviolent, nonserious offenses and have no sex crime convictions on their record may be shifted to the supervision of the Department of Probation and not the California Division of Adult Parole Operations after they have completed their prison term.  It means more prisoners will be eligible to be supervised, and it will impact parole and probation procedures in California.  Besides, it will mean that even prisoners convicted several times of selling small quantities of drugs, may be sent to jail instead of state prison, if these offenses did not involve the sale of drugs to minors.

California’s current prison dilemma is the result of outdated laws that have stressed incarceration as opposed to rehabilitation even for nonviolent, non-serious offenses.  The results are now clear to see even to the highest court in the land.  The state’s prison population exceeds 140,000, most of whom are held in terrible conditions.

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