Crime jumps as prisoners flood into county jails

July 13, 2012

By Dave Roberts

California’s experiment in incarcerating tens of thousands of criminals in local jails or their homes rather than in state prisons is 10 months old, so the verdict is not yet in on whether it’s been a success or failure. But if Kern County’s experience is any indication, Californians could be in for a bumpy ride on the Kumbaya road to early releasing or attempting to help criminals at the local level, rather than simply locking them up in the state pen.

The statewide experiment known as “realignment” was launched last October. In the six-month period from October 2011 through March 2012 in Kern County, burglaries increased 20 percent and auto thefts and robberies were up 12 percent over the same period in the previous year, according to a recent probation report. Kern County was already one of the most crime-ridden counties in the state. Violent crime skyrocketed 49 percent from 2001-10 while property crime increased 20 percent.

The influx of hundreds of criminals into Kern County jails has resulted in a 200 percent increase in assaults on jail staff, 122 percent increase in the placing of prisoners in “safety cells,” 9 percent increase in fights, 10 percent increase in drug use and 40 percent increase in suicide watches. Longer sentences for some of the inmates, some as long as six or nine years, have led to a “prison mentality” developing among some inmates in what used to be a short-term housing facility, according to a grand jury report.

Kern County was unprepared for the inmate explosion. Nineteen barracks in the county’s Lerdo jail are so antiquated that at any time three of them are closed for maintenance. Some of the one-man cells have been converted to two-man cells. The county has qualified for $100 million in state funding to add another 790 beds.

As a result, hundreds of prisoners have been released to home detention or rehabilitation and work programs. One of those releases was a drunk driver with prior convictions who served only a few months of a six-year sentence, according to the Wall Street Journal. Another inmate with prior convictions, who would normally have been sent to state prison for several years for receiving stolen property, instead served just four months in jail and was sent home with a GPS ankle bracelet. Many inmates receive half-time credits, further reducing their sentences.


Under realignment’s goal of reducing the recidivism rate, Lerdo inmates can now take art, auto body and computer classes and receive drug counseling from four newly hired substance abuse specialists.

I asked Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, who is also president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, whether Californians are less safe today than they were a year ago before realignment.

“That’s a hard question to answer,” he said. “The one thing many of us have seen is an increase in crime. But the problem is you don’t know if it’s the economy or realignment. No one has an answer yet. It’s too early to know. Are we concerned? Yes. We want to make sure we don’t get sued and don’t release the wrong people onto the street. We are all in the learning stage on what realignment is and how we implement those tools that benefit our local communities. But when the day is done, we all share the same concerns: We want to make sure we make the decisions that keep our communities safe.”

The crime rate has been trending down in the state in the last decade. Violent crime decreased 30 percent from 2001 to 2010, while property crime declined 16 percent. Statistics for 2011 are not yet available on the state attorney general’s website, so it could be at least a year before the statistics comparing crime rates before and after realignment are available.

“I think the jury is still out, but time will tell,” said Royal. “But for me in managing my inmate population, I am going to do everything I can to make sure the right people stay in custody. I don’t want violent people on the street. Those who are released are the low-level offenders. Drunk drivers are doing a portion of their time on home detention along with those that show very minimal threat to society.”

Repeat criminals

I asked Royal what effect the new system will have on repeat or would-be criminals who know that they can now do the crime but may not have to do the time — even after being arrested and convicted. “Unless we do the survey, we could speculate, but we don’t know at this point,” he said. “It is a concern that has been raised. ‘Where’s the punitive action for misconduct if I know I am not going to be in jail very long?’”

It’s possible that Kern County is an outlier and many, perhaps most, of California’s 58 counties will escape relatively unscathed from realignment. But all county sheriffs share some things in common, according to Royal. “We all agree that the numbers [of prisoners in county jails] are greater than we thought,” he said. “We all have space problems. We are concerned about future litigation issues [due to potential overcrowding and inadequate medical care]. And we all believe there’s inadequate funding. That’s a concern all of us share.”

The extent of the local prisoner influx problem depends on the county, according to Karen Pank, executive director of the Chief Probation Officers of California.

“We have seen a lot of population management impacts from realignment in many counties, Kern being one of them,” she said. But “for every Kern you could probably find a county that is experiencing the same type of capacity issues, and the funding needed to deal with that seems to match up better. Depending on the county situation, realignment plays out differently.”

Probation departments

It’s definitely having a major impact on county probation departments, which are taking over from the state much of the post-prison oversight role. Like Royal, Pank believes a better job can be done at the local level than the state level.

“One trend that we will start to be able to see is that the people supposed to be supervised by probation that were previously supervised by [state] parole are showing up to probation at a much higher rate,” she said. “Our absconders are lower. That’s a good sign. If we are properly involved and charged to work with the right population and have the flexibility, we have the opportunity to do some good for the criminal justice system. But it’s still too early to know if all of those things will happen.”

But it’s not too early for Paul McIntosh, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, to declare realignment a major step in the right direction.

“One of the things we have been doing with the former approach is we have been ripping families apart,” he said. “You incarcerate the male or breadwinner of the family and the rest of the family is on the social service roll. One of the goals [of realignment] is to keep families together and over time they will prove successful. We have said that anything that follows an incarceration model has problems, because there’s not enough money to lock everyone up and throw away the key. Are there going to be hiccups? Of course. We are in the process of multi-generational change. It will take a decade to work through this.”

Whether California can afford a decade of prisoner release “hiccups” remains to be seen.


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  1. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 13 July, 2012, 12:36

    Realignment is NOT the problem, the problem is long jail terms for minor and non violent offense when we are comping prison guards $200K per year, and the cost per inmate because of that type of compensation is $50K-$55K per INMATE. That is the problem. The rise in crime is a result of the economy and not realignment IMO, the rise in jail problems is related to the rise in inmates not realignment. Warehousing people at $55K per year for non violent nothign crimes is the mistake.

    Reply this comment
  2. doug
    doug 13 July, 2012, 13:25

    taking out the bread winner?
    these felons cant get a job once they’re out.
    they go back to selling drugs and burglary.
    thats why the family sues the police for excessive use of force and the bread winner gets his payday.
    only they piss it all away in that decade.
    its a never ending cycle.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 13 July, 2012, 20:54

    It’s not just the outrageous prison guard compensation. Didn’t you notice that they’re building new beds for the prison at $125k *per bed*?

    Reply this comment
  4. Donkey
    Donkey 13 July, 2012, 20:56

    You hit it the nail on the head Rex! Also Kern county is one of the most corrupt in the state when it comes to LE. Ed Jagles put 29 innocent citizens is jail through intimidation, terrorism, and one with the jury system, for the mere fact of calling him a liar about the charges against a fellow citizen.

    Most of the people in prison today would not even be there in the 1980’s, because the justice system didn’t operate the Prison Industrial Complex the LE RAGWUS has built have today. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  5. Donkey
    Donkey 13 July, 2012, 21:05

    It is the PIC that has created the “criminal mentality.” We are locking up 18 to 28 yearold males for fist fighting and branding them as violent felons for life. My entire male high school graduating class, with a few exceptions, would fit into that discription as held by the PIC today. That’s right, people are going to jail for punching a lound mouth punk. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 14 July, 2012, 09:33

    Now the Poodle, and the Duncey are criminologists ! LOLOL

    I have to say I don’t enjoy this, BUT— it is ironic/fun to see the whiners whine about the criminals/felons/parolees after constant complaining about law enforcement. Just like going to a parent teacher’s night listening to all the parent experts whine about professional educators…..

    The jail sentences are long for a reason– let the clowns out, what do you get? New victims.

    Have a nice day. I am.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 July, 2012, 10:25

    Note to JOHN, KATY AND BRIAN, CAN YOU PUT THE TROLL AWAY,thank you, the readership 🙂

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 July, 2012, 10:27

    I love how the GED trough feeder tries to justify ***long sentneces*** for non violent offenders at $55K per year-as long as the GED moron isn’t paying the tab and is on the receiving end I guess it is OK with the troll.

    Reply this comment
  9. Donkey
    Donkey 14 July, 2012, 10:46

    Rex, most of the “violent Offenders” the LE RAGWUS imprisons would not even earn that moniker in the past. I am saying that in the past, the actions of brawling and fighting between the ages of 16 to 28 was a pretty normal event. Branding these people as violent felons is unjust. Young men fight, it is normal, mutual combat among young males is historical, the PIC has used this to grow the number of violent criminals in an effort to justify their stealing of taxpayer dollars. Heck the guards place bets on fights among inmates!!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 14 July, 2012, 11:48

    LOL…..seems like i hit a nerve……….lol

    Reply this comment
  11. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 14 July, 2012, 11:57

    LOL Duncey “branding these people as felons” LOL

    yeah– these poor innocent kids


    Reply this comment
  12. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 14 July, 2012, 12:20

    I just feel so sorry for the felons….


    What do you think the rap sheet leading up to this murder looked like?

    lol poor Duncey ™

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 July, 2012, 15:20

    What do you think Teddy’s brain looke like leading up to his meltdowns????

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 14 July, 2012, 15:56

    I see…..kinda what I thought Poodle……… answer.


    Reply this comment
  15. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 July, 2012, 19:09


    Reply this comment
  16. Donkey
    Donkey 15 July, 2012, 08:17

    Ted, I have no sorrow for real felons, I do however understand that the PIC, created for the benefit of the LE RAGWUS and the court system, is an evil enterprise, and should not exsit in a free society.

    The spike in American incarceration rates is quite recent. From 1925 to 1988, the rate remained stable, around 110 people in prison per 100,000 people. “In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.” That is no longer the case Teddy.

    Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1988, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

    This Professor from Yale makes a good point: “America is a comparatively tough place, which puts a strong emphasis on individual responsibility,” Whitman of Yale wrote. “That attitude has shown up in the American criminal justice of the last 30 years.” But he fails to note the impact the LE RAGWUS holds with the PIC. The crimminals that run the LE RAGWUS, in fact created the PIC in its current form. He does see however that major changes have taken place over the last 30 years that did not exsit in our past.

    Whitman, who has studied Tocqueville’s work on American penitentiaries, was asked what accounted for America’s booming prison population.
    “Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.” Mr.Whitman is not aware that our political system has been hi-jacked by the RAGWUS cabal that has installed their form of democracy upon the American republic. The RAGWUS does not however have a lock on every state, but in California, Illnois, New York, and a few others it is entrenched to the point of being tyrannical.

    Ted, my beliefs the most Americans in our prisons today do not belong is built upon my 55 year life to this point. I have been on juries and been a part of a good prosecution and one that should have never gone past the first day of an investigation. The second one I was a major factor in it being a hung jury, with only a FF siding with the prosecution. The probation/parole do their best to return young men to prison, jacking up their tally of lies about of concern for the people, all the while taking as much of an ex-cons paycheck as they can in fees/restitution/costs and then arresting them for not having a place to stay or for sleeping in their vehicles.

    The PIC the LE RAGWUS has built is nothing more than an American Gulag. The PIC is run by folks like “Javert” from Le Miserables, that wont let our own American “Jean Valjean’s” move on from their past, never allowing them peace. 😉

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 15 July, 2012, 09:18


    A Gulag?

    That kind of exaggeration betrays a robust ignorance of a real gulag.

    In the Midrash they wrote; “a society that is compassionate when it should be cruel will be cruel when i t should be compassionate”. That is born out again and again.

    99% of the folks in prison should be there. Should we have real drug treatment? Yes. We should use the Euro model. Conservatives always block legislative attempts at this.

    The “real felons”, whoever they are or you decide them to be I guess instead of juries, would love your cuddly post.

    And while the long post is ok, I guess. I like what Abraham Lincoln said after writing a long letter to a friend, “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time”. Please do better.

    Teddy S, Troll Mentor

    Reply this comment
  18. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 15 July, 2012, 11:05

    Donk, you DESTROYED Teddy Steals, the troll will never recover, good job 🙂

    Reply this comment
  19. Donkey
    Donkey 15 July, 2012, 11:07

    No Ted, we have a Gulag, all be it an American one. You can’t be the land of the free and home of the brave, with only 5% of the worlds population, holding over 25% of the worlds prisoners and claim to not have a PIC on the magnitude of the old Soviet style Gulag.

    To your statement that “99% should be there” shows your too close to the LE RAGWUS to think objectively.

    The LE RAGWUS have parlayed their jobs into enormous political power, at the expense and freedom of too many citizens to grow their PIC. 😉

    Reply this comment
  20. Donkey
    Donkey 15 July, 2012, 11:08

    Thanks Rex!! Have a great day buddy, It is awesome out today!! :

    Reply this comment
  21. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 15 July, 2012, 11:50

    Teddy twists and fakes, jukes and twists right before your eyes. THE genuine Wizard of CWD!

    Reply this comment
  22. Donkey
    Donkey 15 July, 2012, 12:10

    The RAGWUS must die as quickly as possible!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  23. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 15 July, 2012, 12:15

    “must die”?



    Reply this comment
  24. Donkey
    Donkey 15 July, 2012, 13:50

    Yes, the RAGWUS must disappear from the face of the Earth!! 😉

    Reply this comment
  25. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 15 July, 2012, 20:14

    Moon barkers!!!!

    Reply this comment
  26. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 15 July, 2012, 22:05

    dull-normal internet dullards…..

    Reply this comment
  27. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 15 July, 2012, 23:41


    Reply this comment
  28. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 16 July, 2012, 08:22

    Did the poodle pass gas……….again?

    Reply this comment

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