By Beatriz Valenzuela, Press-Telegram
Posted: 12/04/13, 6:31 PM PST |

On the heels of a scathing report card that gave failing grades to both Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties for their handling of the state’s prison realignment program, an advocacy group and concerned residents caravaned to Sacramento Wednesday to voice opposition to the counties seeking grant money to build what the group calls “cages for our children.”

“The L.A. sheriff’s department has built the biggest jail system in the country and has shown itself to be incapable of running it,” said Diana Zuñiga of Californians United for a Responsible Budget in a statement. “We need to downsize, not expand, and shift funds away from the sheriff and towards programs that help our neediest neighbors.”

All but eight of the state’s 50 counties have plans to build new jails. Of those, 36 have applied for millions of dollars through new state legislation that allows the sale of bonds to pay for $500 million in construction costs.

“The issues that we have is the alternatives are not being expanded,” Zuñiga said in an interview.

Los Angeles County has applied for the money to build 236 “re-entry beds” as well as a women’s facility.

Since the implementation of the prison realignment program under Assembly Bill 109, several counties have reported an increase in their jail population.

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