Fresno Police Chief Monitors Released Inmates

September 9, 2008 12:38:32 AM PDT
The 72 inmates who won an early release from the Fresno County Jail last week are being monitored. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he has obtained the names and addresses of the inmates and plans to keep track of their behavior. Dyer says,"We want to know who they are, what the charges are and where they live." Dyer says the goal of this monitoring program is keep track of crimes in the former inmates neighborhoods to see if they can be linked to the inmates.

39 of the 72 inmates were being held on drug or alcohol related charges. Sheriff Margaret Mims ordered the inmates released last week, as part of a program to cut the jail population by nearly 900 inmates because of budget cuts imposed on her by the Fresno County Supervisors. The Fresno County Jail is under a Federal Court order to reduce inmates because of overcrowding, or a staffing shortage. The inmates released are considered low level offenders who were in jail awaiting court appearances. The Sheriff's Department maintains all would have been eligible for bail, and could have been out on the streets anyway, except they did not have enough money to make bail.

Protests by Fresno Mayor Alan Autry may have prompted the Board of Supervisors to consider restoring 2.8 million to the Sheriff's budget. Mims halted the inmate releases last Friday until the board takes action today (Tuesday.)

Undersheriff Scott Jones last week said that even if the board restores the 2.8 million, it will not be enough. He notes the Sheriff's Department budget remains 10 to 15 million dollars below last years budget. He and Mims have said unless more money was found dozens of corrections officers would have to be laid off.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson says he is confident the county can find some additional money, through internal borrowing. Larons says."The board is very concerned. We're short on money and we're going to do the best we can."

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