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Escape from L.A.

No, not THAT one! :-)

This time, it’s escape from L.A. jails that are nearing capacity! Los Angeles County‘s jails might run out of space soon, perhaps as early as December 2011, as the result of an influx of state prisoners under California’s new prison law, (euphemistically) known as “realignment.” :-) As many as 8,000 offenders that would ordinarily go to state prisons will go to the Los Angeles County jails in the next year, instead! Officials are examining the possible release of THOUSANDS of inmates who are awaiting trial! :-)

Snake Plissken would be PROUD! :-)

Inmates awaiting trial currently account for 70% of the L.A. County jail population. Sheriff Lee Baca said that number may have to drop to 50%. Three approaches to resolve the problem are under consideration:

  1. A major expansion of electronic monitoring and home detention
  2. Development of a new risk-assessment system to identify candidates for release
  3. Channeling of offenders into education and substance-abuse programs rather than jail

The Los Angeles Times obtained an internal report by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office that estimated that L.A. County jails would be filled by the end of 2011. The Sheriff’s Department has the funding to open only an additional 1,800 beds, woefully inadequate to support the influx of state prisoners.

Local police and prosecutors predict that the realignment plan, which was developed to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning overcrowding in California prisons,  would place more offenders on the street and increase the crime rate. L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck has predicted a 3% increase in crime as the result of realignment.

Although the EARLY release of inmates from the Los Angeles jails system has been a reality for years, many share concerns that the release of defendants BEFORE TRIAL could result in their not showing up for court, or even their intimidation of witnesses while on electronic monitoring.

More than 150,000 inmates served only a FRACTION of their sentences, many of them less than 10%, between 2002 and 2006. An investigation by the L.A. Times in 2006 determined that almost 16,000 inmates who had been released early were rearrested while they normally would have still been in jail, and 16 of these were charged with murder!

Sheriff’s officials say that they have reduced the number of early releases in more recent years. :-)

-Bill at

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