Fresno County jail releases continue

FRESNO, Calif.

The millions of additional dollars the sheriff was given will help her save jobs, but she says it will take another $9-million to keep all the inmates in jail.

For the foreseeable future the status quo at the Fresno county jail will remain the same. The revolving door will continue until millions more in funding becomes available.

"It depends on the economy and who can predict what's gonna happen with that. We have three floors that are closed right now to open them, to staff them and feed the inmates is about 3 million per floor," Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

Late last week the board of supervisors agreed to give the sheriff $2.8 million to save deputies who patrol the streets of Fresno County. The money also prevents more layoffs of correctional officers.

Unfortunately, early releases have become a sign of the times, stretching far beyond the Central Valley.

"This isn't anything new. All around the state of California I think 30 counties are experiencing the same thing we are. This isn't anything new. It isn't just happening in Fresno County. That doesn't make it good but it's more of a statewide problem," Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian said.

"The unfortunate thing is the population i think is starting to get conditioned to seeing people released as sort of a normal part everyday life and that's a mistake because the fact of the matter is we are releasing people that have a variety of felony charges against them and felony histories behind them," Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said.

Supervisors and the sheriff hope the releases will end when the budget crisis is over. For the meantime, there's no end in sight.

Tuesday the board of supervisors is expected to finalize the budget. It will not include additional money to halt releases.

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