By Rina Palta
As California looks to reduce its prison population, one local institution will become more and more important: the county jail. At the moment, felonies in California carry sentences in state prison. Come October 1, and implementation of the state’s realignment plan, non-violent, non-serious, non-sex felonies wil instead be handled by the county system–meaning that if there’s any time to be served behind bars for these lower level offenders, it’ll happen in the county jails. Many counties are worried about making space for these new offenders, saying their jails are already packed to the brim.
So who’s in these jails right now?
Data from the California Board of Corrections shows two large groups populating California’s county jails: people accused of crimes, awaiting trial; and federal detainees, mostly suspected illegal immigrants going through deportation proceedings.
Yuba County, with the third highest rate of sending inmates to state prison, has a large number of federal contract beds. According to the latest available data, from June 2010, Yuba County has 430 inmates in its jail system on any given day, over half (257) of whom are there on federal contract. According to the Willows Journal, the county took in $6.3 million from the deal in the last fiscal year. Yuba County may have to terminate that contract to accommodate the 94 inmates the county will absorb over the next few years.
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