Fresno Budget Battle | Threat of Inmate Release

August 27, 2008 7:02:16 PM PDT
The threat of releasing hundreds of Fresno County Jail inmates early caught the attention, and raised the concerns of Fresno Mayor Alan Autry. Autry says Sheriff Margaret Mims is putting the safety of Fresno County residents in jeopardy.Mayor Alan Autry believes he can help Fresno County find the two million dollars to keep inmates in jail. But Sheriff Margaret Mims respectfully disagrees that her budget can budge that much.

Autry says he's tried several times to reach Sheriff Mims by phone but Mims says she hasn't heard anything from him. During the mayor's news conference he expressed concern for the people of the city and county--warning releasing eight-hundred inmates would pose a threat to everyone.

The mayor says he would offer some of the city's financial officers to help clear up the budget deficit and keep deputies in the jail house and hundreds of criminals off the streets.

Alan Autry, Fresno Mayor: You look at all the options, you got to get creative. We've had to get creative for 8 years in the city of Fresno. You look at every single avenue to save before you say we're going to let 8-hundred people that have been convicted out on the streets."

Sheriff Mims: "No it's not personal. And the mayor should be concerned about county finances because it directly affects cities in Fresno County. We provide jail services for the whole county."

Sheriff Mims says she's cut back overtime hours and reduced deputies beats to find money. But Mims says there could be financial help on the horizon.

The county charges a booking fee to cities to house their inmates. These cities are partially reimbursed by the state but that funding could stop in which case Mims would charge cities the difference.

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