Fresno Sheriff's Budget: Lay-Offs and Prisoner Releases

June 27, 2008 7:07:52 PM PDT
The Fresno County Sheriff claims a twelve million dollar budget shortfall means lost jobs and eventually released inmates.The sheriff says budget cuts have come down to this. Dozens of correctional officers getting pink slips and closing the satellite jail and that's just the beginning.

Sheriff Margaret Mims says she had tough choices to make.

Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff: "Effective August 1st, I will close the satellite jail which houses sentenced male inmates most of which are part of the many and various work crews being utilized throughout county."

Thursday Mims sent out an inter office memo describing her position and intention to sheriff's department employees.

Just last week at least one county supervisor promised this would not happen.

Henry Perea, Fresno County Supervisor: "We're not going to lay off one deputy sheriff nor are we going to lay off one correctional officer in this county. But we are going to work with you to make sure you have the funding you need to keep your operations intact."

Mims said the decision was heartbreaking. Her announcement Friday came as a surprise to supervisor Bob Waterston.

Bob Waterston, Fresno County Supervisor: "She cannot lay anybody off. She's causing out there her own employees that she cares about so much she's causing them to be scared of their jobs and they're probably counting their numbers on seniority now and I hope they hear this because she can't do it I am not going to vote to lay any people off in the sheriff's department."

Waterston says Mims spent 9 million dollars last year in overtime and left 55 positions open for more than a year.

Mims claims the overtime was spent on officers to cover the open positions and because she knew it was a tough budget year she resisted hiring more deputies to then have the possibility of laying them off.

Mims says the budget cuts left her with a 108 million dollar budget and she needs 120 to keep the department afloat.

Supervisor Perea issued a statement late afternoon echoing Waterston's statements that no layoffs will be given to any sworn or civilian personnel.

Despite this Mims says she expects inmates will be released. She's planning to release low level offenders who are awaiting trial.

Mims says the next step will be closing floors in the jail.


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