SACRAMENTO, CA-- Yet another defeat Tuesday for Governor Jerry Brown and the state in California's prison overcrowding case. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a lower-court ruling ordering California to further reduce its state prison population by nearly 10,000 prisoners by January 27, 2014.
"We want to blame the governor for realignment, but he was sued and lost and the inmates filed the lawsuit,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. “It's like the inmates formed their own union and there are crazy things going on in our world."
Governor Brown has said he will try to lease private prison space to combat the overcrowding issue, but officials say that will still force about 4,000 onto California's streets.
"It's frustrating in one sense because we are creating victims on our streets and that does not sit well with the sheriff,” Youngblood said. “It is our job to protect the public. From that vein it's very frustrating, but it’s also making us better managers in law enforcement and making us more innovative with some of the programs to reduce the recidivism rate."
One idea Youngblood likes is allowing some prisoners who have enrolled in school or vocational courses, to leave prison early provided they wear an ankle monitoring device. There's also a push for more investment in mental health and drug treatment programs in hopes of keeping parolees from reoffending.
A new 800-bed prison is scheduled to break ground in December 2015, but Sheriff Youngblood thinks more prison space is not the only answer. He estimates about 250 inmates will relocate to Kern County after the January 27th deadline.