30 Fresno County Corrections Officers to be Laid Off

August 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A county leader reacts Saturday as 30 Fresno County corrections officers are about to be laid off. More accused criminals are expected to be set free while the sheriff struggles with a budget deficit. Sunday will be the last day for dozens of correctional officers with the Fresno County Jail. Action News counted more than 139 inmates who have been released early this month. The releases are all connected to overcrowding and budget cuts. Some of those released were facing violent charges. A county supervisor says he's concerned but supports the sheriff.

Every inmate released early leaves behind a record. Action News obtained that information. The documents list the criminal charges for the men and women who are now set free. We found 30-year-old Andreiy Bibian Carreno who walked out of jail Friday morning. Fresno Police arrested the suspect for spousal battery and robbery. 34-year-old Talawna Andrea Grissom was released early Friday afternoon despite facing a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. But jail officials failed to publish the charges associated with many of the suspected criminals who are now walking our streets.

County Supervisor Phil Larson said, "When you release a criminal onto the street, he's a threat." Larson said he doesn't like the fact that suspected criminals are getting away. Larson said they don't have the tax revenue to keep the jail fully staffed, "Public safety gets 80-percent of our general fund money. And the governor is talking about taking some more of that away. So, what do we do then? And I'm not for taking any more money from the sheriff at all."

The sheriff's office has closed two floors of the old jail and moved inmates to the new jail where fewer guards are required to supervise. The jail remains under a federal order to release inmates whenever the facility is near capacity. Sheriff Margaret Mims hopes more layoffs and more releases can be avoided in the future, "Things are going to get better. It's a rough spot right now. We'll do the best we can. Make sure we keep the public safe, but it is just tough going right now."

The union representing the corrections officers tried to delay the layoffs, but that effort failed at a hearing Friday evening. At this point, Larson said he doesn't know when the county could rehire the men and women.

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