Possible Fresno County Solution to Inmate Releases

September 6, 2008 11:32:47 AM PDT
One Fresno county supervisor said he has an idea to bail the sheriff out of debt and prevent any further inmates from being released.The sheriff's department said close to 70 inmates have been released from this prison so far. However the city said it's more like 100. Whatever the number ... the inmate release is on hold until Tuesday and maybe for good.

"I think it's going to save the day. We've got to stop releasing the prisoners," said Bob Waterston.

Fresno county supervisor Bob Waterston said he wants to give sheriff Margaret Mims a $6-million loan to keep inmates locked up.

"'It would be...It would be at this point it would be borrowing internal borrowing within the county. Internal borrowing.' Reporter: 'From other departments?' Waterston: 'No! That was the main that that we not hurt another department.'"

Sheriff Mims said she's happy the county is stepping up to help with her budget deficit.

"It sounds like a good plan and source of revenue. Doesn't hurt other departments and keeps me from releasing inmates," said Mims.

And it keeps her from laying off close to 50 sheriff deputies. But the plan still doesn't sit well with Fresno mayor Alan Autry who has been an outspoken critic of the inmate release.

"Don't ever play this game of chicken with the public safety of the people of this city ever again!" said Autry.

And Autry's still threatening to take the sheriff to federal court to prevent future inmate releases.

"I believe there's a structural flaw in the system that's being abused up and down in this state. County's are letting folks out that should be behind bars," said Autry.

Waterston said his solution to halt inmate releases is not a reaction to the mayor's threats to seek legal action.

"I don't know what they're up to and i don't know what they're doing. But we wanted to call for this press conference and let everybody know this. It has nothing to do with what they're doing," said Waterston.

The board's loan would be paid back over 3 years ... with interest. Stopping the release is a just a temporary thing. County board members must approve of the loan on Tuesday.

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