By Christina Villacorte, Los Angeles Daily News
POSTED: 09/24/13, 4:41 PM PDT |
For the first time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will outsource jailing some of its long-term inmates.
The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay the city of Taft, in Kern County, about $11 million a year to house up to 512 male inmates sentenced to several years behind bars.
Los Angeles County jails are overcrowded because of California corrections’ realignment plan, a state law mandating counties to hold certain felons in county jails rather than state prisons.
The county jail houses about 6,000 more inmates now than it did before realignment.
County Chief Executive Officer Bill Fujioka said the additional jail beds are “critically needed” because realignment required inmates diverted from state prisons to serve their entire sentence in county jails, leaving the Sheriff’s Department scrambling for space for its other inmates.
To manage the population, the department allowed some of those inmates to serve only 10 to 40 percent of their sentences.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich noted some of the inmates granted early release were charged with such serious crimes as “rape, child molestation, child abuse, kidnapping, mayhem, sex offenders who fail to register, carjacking.”
“This (contract) gives us a real opportunity to get those people who commit the worst crimes in L.A. County to serve 100 percent of their time,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said.
But Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavksy abstained from the vote, saying they first want to see a comprehensive plan for managing the jail population.
Last week, the board approved diverting 500 inmates to camps run by the county Fire Department, so they can be tapped to help create containment lines for wildfires in exchange for credits that would shorten their stint behind bars.