Overcrowding and budget issues in Los Angeles County haveled to thousands of inmates serving time as little as 40 percent of their sentences.
The Los Angeles Times investigated early releases at county jails through records from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, available under the California Public Records Act. According to the records, more than 23,000 inmates so far this year have been released before their time was served — including those convicted of violence and sex crimes.
Prior statistics for early releases show a trend toward a sharp increase in these numbers for 2013. The county granted early release toaround 26,000 inmates during all of 2012, and in 2011, approximately 15,700 were released early.
Some inmates are released without serving time under the current policy of the sheriff's department, the Times reports. These include male inmates with sentences shorter than 90 days, and female inmates sentenced to fewer than 240 days.
The flood of releases is a result of several factors, including a budget squeeze following the most recent economic downturn that forced the department to close some sections of county prisons. Another factor is the prison realignment plan, placed in motion in 2011, which has shifted housing responsibilities for convicted offenders from the state prison system to the county.
Los Angeles County already maintained the largest local prison system in the country, prior to the realignment program that shifted even more traffic to county detentions.
There are currently around 6,000 inmates housed in county facilities that have been transferred from state prisons under the program. According to the Sheriff's Department, these inmates are not eligible for early release. Instead, the releases are granted to inmates serving traditional county sentences — a group that represents about 6 percent of the total prison population.
Overcrowding in prisons occur as more Californians are arrested and charged. Vitaly Sigal, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, delivers aggressive defense representation for people who have been charged with various types of crimes. To discuss the details of your case with Mr. Sigal, contact our office today.