150 inmates to be released starting Friday
December 08, 2011 5:43 PM
Beatriz E. Valenzuela, Staff Writer

Starting Friday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department plans to release early 150 county jail inmates in response to the increased number of inmates at local county jails.

“Right now we’re at 90 percent capacity,” said Cindy Bachman spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, explaining that jails have to keep a certain amount of space open for new bookings.

One hundred fifty inmates who have violated parole will be released between Friday and Dec. 14, officials said. All of the parole violators released will be assigned to and fall under the immediate supervision of State Parole.

Since Oct., 1, when Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment plan went into effect, 535 defendants who would’ve been sent to state prison have been retained in the county jail system, she said. This number is well within the amount estimated by state and local officials. Additionally, there are some who violated the terms of their parole and would’ve been sent back to state prison who are also being held in county facilities.

Inmates and parole violators must meet certain criteria, including having served at least half of their commitment time, and they must have less than 30 days remaining in their commitment in order to qualify for the early release, officials said.

Other factors that may also be considered include the inmate’s criminal history and his or her conduct while in custody.

Bachman said authorities and members of a committee made up by sheriff’s officials, county probation personnel, mental health service providers and others anticipated the possibility of having to implement an early-release program at the county level if the jail population became too great.

“We had to prepare for these releases,” she said adding a way to help keep the jail populations down is to place more offenders on electronic monitoring and work release programs.

Inmates will only be prepared for early release when inmate numbers begin to reach capacity.

“The jail staff is constantly monitoring the numbers and when they see that the population is reaching capacity then they’ll start preparing inmates for early release,” she said.

Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at (760) 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.

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