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The plan for realignment of the California prison system is already showing some negative effects on the county jails throughout the state. The legislation, known as AB109, sends more sentenced inmates into county lockup to serve their sentences rather than state prisons.

This plan is intended to alleviate the overcrowding that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2011. The result of this move is being felt by the county jails, many of which are struggling to maintain the population cap and provide rehabilitation programs that are structured to stop the “revolving door” for low-level offenders inside the criminal justice system.

Monterey County is one of those that are attempting to find a way to keep their rehabilitation programs and add more while at the same time having enough space to house the growing number of inmates being detained inside the jail.

From the time the realignment plan took hold, the number of inmates being sent from Monterey County Jail to state prison has decreased 35%. The number of inmates that remain in the county lockup has increased 10%.

With the need for additional space to house those inmates, the space required to provide rehabilitation programs is limited inside the jail. The current program offerings include GED preparation, an employability class, chemical dependency awareness and anger management. There are also classes for parenting, job hunting, substance abuse and the causes of criminal behavior.

The jail hopes to include even more of these types of programs because they are key to reducing the recidivism rate. By educating offenders and giving them a different view of their capabilities, it is possible to encourage them to change the path they are on and prevent them from getting caught in an endless circle of criminal behavior.

The increasing number of inmates at Monterey County Jail is forcing the county to seek alternatives to housing. Soon, the jail will begin to send inmates to other county jails that have available bed space in order to keep its inmate population from growing too large.

Right now, it costs Monterey County $129 per inmate per day to house inmates. It will only cost $84 for each inmate that is housed in Alameda County, where approximately 50 inmates will be sent in July.

Monterey County knows the importance of maintaining both adequate space for inmates as well as the proper programs that can make the most difference in changing the course that many inmates are on. In order to reduce the number of people coming into the jail, they will need to find a way to stop the revolving door of criminal behavior that so many are stuck in.

Source: Monterey County Jail overcrowding stymies rehabilitation programs


Published: 07/01/2012