State Budget Relies on Reduction in Prison Population

July 22, 2009 12:10:58 AM PDT
The Department of Corrections has a plan to save one billion dollars by cutting the prison population by more than 27 thousand inmates and eliminating the jobs of 5,000 state prison employees. Part of the plan calls for keeping more offenders in county jails by reducing some low level felony charges to misdemeanors. But, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says the county can't handle any more inmates."If, they require state sentenced inmates to county jails it will be devastating." Mims said.

Mims says layoff's in her department are already looming. Other parts of the state plan call for deporting undocumented inmates, sending those who are elderly, and infirm home, or to nursing homes, releasing those who have less than a year left to serve to house arrest, and letting some earn their way out early.

Prison cuts are just one aspect of the money saving measures given tentative approval by state lawmakers and the Governor.

Fresno County and the City of Fresno are still tabulating the expected loss of state funds but expect the cuts to be severe, especially for road and street project. The city of Clovis is estimating it will have to hand over nearly six million dollars in property tax, gas tax and redevelopment funds. City Manager Kathy Millison says, "The proposals, as we have seen them, would be a disaster."

The city of Clovis has already cut its budget by nearly ten per cent. Now street repairs and redevelopment projects are on hold. Employees who leave won't be replaced. Millison says citizens of Clovis, will join the rest of the state in feeling the effects of state budget cuts. "If you're an individual requesting services in your neighborhood in your home, directly. You're going to notice the difference."

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