Merced County jail stops taking parole violators

October 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Realignment was supposed to ease overcrowding in state prisons by transferring inmates to county jails. But now the Merced County jail is filled to capacity. And news that the jail will top taking parole violators has left many police chiefs disappointed.

The Merced County jail is the latest correctional facility dealing with overcrowding caused by the state's realignment program AB109.

Tom Mackenzie said, "Under a federal cap, we're only allowed to be at 90 percent capacity and right now we're at over 600 inmates, which I think our federal cap is 580."

The Merced County sheriff's office along with the jail administrator made the decision Tuesday to ease overcrowding by no longer accepting parole violators unless they commit a new offense.

Mackenzie explained, "If they're being violated by parole or another agency, or being brought in by another agency, we're going to refuse booking."

And the decision has upset many, including police agencies throughout the county. Like most agencies, the police chief for the city of Merced was informed of the immediate change Tuesday night.

Chief Norm Andrade told Action News, "We could have had some time to prepare for this so we could have a sit down and figure out what our game plan would be when we come in contact with parolees that are in violation of their conditions."

Authorities are concerned the new policy will decrease public safety but say they will have to work with the resources they have.

Chief Norm Andrade added, "There's no consequences for these folks when they violate so if there's no consequences for them, they're going to go on doing what they want to do."

The sheriff's office expressed those same thoughts but it says the limited jail space must now be saved for serious offenders.

Mackenzie said, "Obviously we'd like to keep everybody that's brought in, we'd like to see everybody do 100 percent of their time but that's just unrealistic in this day in age."


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