Sheriff Mims Halts Early Release of Fresno Inmates

FRESNO, Calif. Since January 8th, 1,084 inmates have walked out of the Fresno County Jail earlier than expected. Sheriff Mims said on Tuesday, "The releases have stopped."

But /*Sheriff Mims*/ was told by county supervisors she still needs to cut two-point-nine million dollars from her budget. She said, "There will be huge reduced services as a result of this. We are going to reduce the amount of time our helicopter is in the air. We will reduce the time detectives work on clearing cases."

The budget fix approved by the board calls for 23 correctional officers to be laid off. The first floor of the jail would remain closed but the second and third floors would be open.

The sheriff's deputy's union made a one-million dollar concession but a similar concession from SEIU, which represents correctional officers was rejected by the board because it included a guarantee of no future layoffs during the fiscal year.

SEIU union leader Tom Abshere told the board, "My members need to hear from you first there's a commitment to public safety. That means, not closing a single floor."

SEIU must now renegotiate with the county over its million-dollar concession. If approved, correctional officers would avoid layoffs but several non-sworn positions would be lost.

Supervisor Judy Case wants to make sure deputies remain on patrol. Case added, "And I want a place for the bad guys to go when they're captured. Those are my two top priorities."

Sheriff Mims says added cuts means deputies will take longer to respond to calls. Mims said, "It's across the board. Services and supplies, not filling vacancies, being very careful about which promotions I make. These are very very tough times."

SEIU members continue to negotiate with the county over the layoff clause in their concession offer.

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