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Jail Population Swells in San Diego County

While the number of annual bookings into local detention centers has dropped in recent years, the average daily inmate population ballooned from 102 percent of overall jail capacity in 2011 to 113 percent in 2012, according to a study.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The jail population has swelled in San Diego County since prison realignment was instituted statewide three years ago, adding to the strain of area law enforcement, according to a study released Friday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

While the number of annual bookings into local detention centers has dropped in recent years, the average daily inmate population ballooned from 102 percent of overall jail capacity in 2011 to 113 percent in 2012, according to the study.

The most overcrowded was the women's jail in Santee, which was at 174 percent of capacity. An expanded facility is under construction adjacent to the current facility.

Only the San Diego Central Jail and Vista Detention Facility -- out of the county's seven jailhouses -- were under capacity in 2012.

The realignment was brought about by state budget constraints and federal court orders to reduce overcrowding in California's prisons. It required some convicts who would ordinarily be sentenced to state prison to instead serve local time, and for local probation authorities to supervise former inmates who have served their time.

Local law enforcement officials attribute the policy to a crime rate increase.

"Public safety realignment has put an enormous strain on local law enforcement, in particular the Sheriff' Department and the county Probation Department," said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG's director of criminal justice research.

The percentage of jailhouse inmates who would have been in state prison under the old system, but are serving local time now, has risen from 11 percent in 2011 to 35 percent last year, according to Burke.

She also said the portion of maximum-security prisoners, those who have committed assaults or been deemed to be either a behavioral or escape risk, increased from 11 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2012.

Burke lauded area law enforcement for "devising innovative programs and strategies" that help realigned offenders reenter society.

—City News Service

Circus Freakshow February 08, 2014 at 12:05 AM
What they don't tell you about is the amount of Assaults on Staff/Deputies that has risen drastically since this "re-alignment" has taken affect. Don't let the government fool you into thinking everything is ok. IT'S NOT. The amount of inmates has risen, but the amount of staff to supervise that extra 24% of inmates has been cut or stayed the same. The deputies are tasked with 3x as much work in the same amount of time. They basically chase their tails all day/all night. There is no down time. There are no breaks, you barely have 15 minutes to eat lunch. Also if you work Downtown Jail, if multiple inmates get sent to the hospital or transported to another jail, the deputies are taken from that number and assigned to guard the inmates at the hospital without replacing them, thus leaving the deputies shorthanded to handle the same amount of problems with less manpower in the jail. Its a disaster waiting to happen. They preach liability constantly at the jail. But working understaffed at the jails is commonplace and IS a liability. It's been this way for 10 years and is only getting worse. They're looking for 600 new deputy sheriffs for the new women's facility? GOOD LUCK. They'll never do it.
Resident February 12, 2014 at 08:33 PM
I know... The county should utilize some open space in east county far away from any communities and set up a camp with military grade tents for the inmates... I mean if there good enough for our men and women serving our country they are more than sufficient for inmates! You can surrounded the camp with a large fence set up porta potties and set up some mobile towers incase an escape attempt. Simple food nothing fancy! The whole idea is to make it miserable not inhumane but put them to work and show them that their actions have consequences!!!

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