Strapped for Cash and Keeping Inmates Behind Bars

Madera, Calif. Behind lock and key ... 300 men and women are incarcerated at the Madera County Department of Corrections.

Chief Douglas Papagni operates Madera's jail. He's unique in the state of California because Papagni is not elected. Back in 1977 supervisors passed a resolution stripping the sheriff of the responsibility of managing the jail.

In Fresno and most counties across California-- voters elect a sheriff to manage both deputies and the county jail.

Papagni said, "My decision is focused on incarceration therefore, whatever I can get for the Madera County Jail and the priority I can set the Madera County Jail at, I'm not in competition with the patrol officers."

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims decided to lay off 69 of her correctional officers due to a $4-million dollar budget deficit. The staff reduction activated a large scale release of suspected criminals onto Fresno streets. Papagni said he would have a harder time making the same decision.

Papagni answers directly to the Madera County Board of Supervisors. That means five politicians can dictate how Papagni runs his jail. If the chief wants to release inmates early due to budget cuts, these elected officials would have a say.

In Fresno County- Sheriff Mims answers to voters. Madera County Sheriff John Anderson understands the difficult decisions facing Sheriff Mims. But his department has had no significant layoffs ... partly because he does not have to decide between deputies and releasing inmates.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said, "You have to pay tremendous bills for the prisoners when they sick or injured plus feeding and housing that's a great deal of her budget, I'm not faced with that."

Both Anderson and Papagni face a tough future because Madera County must now resolve a $4.9-million dollar deficit.

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