Fresno's Sheriff Criticized for Early Jail Releases

FRESNO, Calif. Supervisors were critical of the decisions Sheriff Mims has made but have offered to work with her to find solutions.

Many of the 69 correctional officers who face a February 8th layoff date stood before Fresno County Supervisors. Some related troubling talks they've had with dangerous inmates who have been recently released.

Correctional officer Roy Orozco said, "The inmates are telling me and I'm in those pods every day talking to these felons, that it is worth the risk right now with bad times out there and hopefully don't get caught for them to put food on the tables for their families at the expense of our families."

Sheriff Mims said cutting 160 or so support personnel such as dispatchers wouldn't help meet her budget. She explained, "If I had to lay off those support services not only would it cause operational issues but I'd have to lay off 3-4 of them for one correctional officer."

County supervisors were critical of Sheriff Mims' decision to approve the early release of over 700 inmates from the Fresno County Jail.

County Supervisor Henry Perea said, "We don't have to be shutting down three floors and releasing all these folks in our community. That is too drastic a measure when you're only talking about one-percent of your budget."

Right now the county is seeking million-dollar concessions from unions representing sheriff's deputies and correctional officers. That would cut the Sheriff's shortfall to one-point-nine million dollars.

Two floors at the jail are now closed. A third could soon follow. Sheriff Mims said, "If the SEIU agrees to the one-million we could use that to not close that floor."

Supervisors hope to have a jail budget solution next week.

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